Though my Dad has been gone from this world for more than twenty years, his presence in my life is still strongly felt.
A sharp, unexpected rebuke evokes my Dad’s presence. And still, even with all my age and experience, tears spring to my eyes. I am embarrassed, and whoever made the remark is surprised at my extreme response. “It’s not you,” I want to explain, “and it’s not really me.” It’s actually more like ten-year-old me, when Dad’s mood turned without warning.
When I hear a child’s giggle, that almost-hysterical, crazy laugh that comes with extreme glee, I think of my Dad. He was a teaser and a tickler. He’d bounce a child on his knee, or toss them over his shoulder “like a sack of potatoes,” or hold them upside-down to “shake the dickens” out of them, because he loved to hear that reaction.
Dad comes to me with the smells of freshly-cut grass, or newly-turned earth. Sometimes I catch the scent of wood smoke, sweat and beer, and I feel Dad must be close. When I work in the garden I feel him at my side, ready with advice and an approving nod. When I’m struggling with a big project, I think of Dad, patiently working away at major undertakings in the meager hours available around his outside job.
My memories of Dad are strong, and good. His presence in my life is more, though, than just what I recall. His influence is a constant in my life, in hundreds of little ways. It’s always a comfort to feel him nearby. Today is my Dad’s birthday. Though he’s not here to celebrate, he’s definitely on my mind.