On My Father's Birthday
He is a figure at a distance, walking away in an airport, coming toward us at arrivals. He is disembarking from a ship, dressed in blue and loaded with carefully bought souvenirs. There is perfume from the United Arab Emirates, a miniature silver box inlaid with a peacock for my mother, a gold watch.
He is a figure in khakis, dress blues and whites. Tall, so tall he seems to block the sun, sheltering me in his shadow. He is a pair of shoulders I sit on to survey the world.
He is the voice at the end of the line when I panic, someone who will always try to find a solution.
He is the Master of Voices and Silly Faces, the opener of books and universes. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Calvin and Hobbes, Terry Pratchett, the best parts of Vimes and Spaceman Spiff.
He is the man who offered to bunch my white wedding dress into the cab of an S10 Chevy truck and drive me away. He is the man who has saved me again and again by just being there and telling me he loves me every day.
To go away and come back, to be the one leaving as well as the one left behind. My childhood has been one of departures and homecomings, a place both magical and mundane. I have failed at times to be my best self but he is one of the reasons I try.
"A day without my kids is like a day without sunshine."