Awake again at three a.m. I may as well write.
Because, writers write. (Wink wink nod nod).
I thought you may have hard thoughts about my parents so I offer some sweetness.
From the time I was very little even up til my mother was consumed by dementia she gave me star kisses. Tiny little kisses scattered on my face like myriad stars and constellations. She also got a devilish grin when she swore. I only ever heard her say "shit" and "damn" and so rarely, we'd laugh and laugh at the delicious liberty from her stately righteousness. She also once said from the sofa, while watching Oprah, "I don't understand why I'm so fat, I stretch in bed all the time." And I hugged her a lot, probably more than she cared for, I'd squeeze her until she wheezed. We also, read I, played a game called 'stern burn' where you rap or use the knobby part of an elbow to the sternum of someone you love and quit only when they beg for mercy. "Stop stop, I bruise so easily," she'd say. Imagine a voice a bit little Julia Child's, not so florid, but melodic. And then imagine that voice on a shared pot of percolated black coffee, her only drug. She and my best friend's mom would talk for hours, the only sound coming from the kitchen their raised high voices and peals of caffeine-fuelled laughter.
My dad. It's harder to say. He was funny. I think. I can't recall anything specific maybe because like a scared but aggressive dog, I watched him from squinting eyes, wanting to laugh but unsure, his humour was often at the expense of others. In time I too developed a harsh humour, a way of kidding that realistically could be translated as mean but as near an attempt at endearment as I was able to achieve. Hopefully I have softened.
He had a phobia of...for instance, as a new driver and already cautious, I took the speed bumps in a nearby park slowly, the speed limit was quite low and to still have him say as i drove over a small brown paper bag, "Ohhhhhhhh! you never do that, why, that could be a,... a bag nails!"
A famous family story.
Girl, he could fix a car as a master mechanic, and sautéed the best green peppers and garlic on earth. He was a troubled soul. I never learned to miss him and in the last two years of his life I wasn't speaking to him. But I do remember the sadness of departure when it was still possible to walk people to their planes, my mom and dad stood at the window, silently, watching, waiting until my flight took off, hands waving, waving.