A short story:
“Morning Possum, the early bird catches the worm.”
And with a grunt in return I’d saunter past my father to the bathroom.
Dad was a legend in our household, a morning glory. While the rest of us preferred to sleep our lives away, Dad was up “at the crack of dawn” because, “It’s the best part of the day,” he’d tell us. But the jury is still out on that.
Even if I was awake early I would never get up, instead I would lie in bed with the sheets up high and listen to him. Listen to him take his daily ablutions, whistling as he dressed, kissing my mother, putting change in his pocket, straightening his tie, striding tall with his happy feet around our home.
Lately I’ve thought about his morning rituals and understand that it was probably ‘the best’ part of the day because it was a time of peace for him to sit and read his paper and have his breakfast and to listen to the birds.
My father was a bird-man, of the feathered variety. We always had birds around us and morning time is bird time when the twittering and antics of these feathered friends are at their peak.
“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
He had a saying for every occasion and even when there was no occasion. Sometimes when we were sitting in silence or watching TV, he would turn and say, “She’ll be right mate,” as if knowing what was on my mind or “It’s time for a young and frisky,” when I was old enough to appreciate his favourite drink.
He kept Latin for those special occasions that required a more philosophical approach to parenting usually involving matters of the heart, “Amor vincit omnia,” did the rounds of our house quickly followed by, “Amor caecus est”. These words of wisdom, little pearls of knowledge, ramblings and random thoughts were what made him endearing, what made me love him unconditionally, always and forever.
They were also what made his loss so much more painful. Knowing that I would never hear his voice again. I would not hear the slow, even rhythm of his breath nor the dulcet tone that soothed me as a child, calmed me as a teenager, and comforted me as an adult. In my dreams I can hear him, I can see him, sometimes I swear I feel his hand run through my hair or touch my cheek.
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” his words were true, but I didn’t want words I wanted him back.