I love it when people pull dates out of thin air and attach them to events with meaning. If I’m in a conversation with a friend, arranging schedules and I say, January 10th I have a dentist appointment, can you watch my son, and my friend might say, oh, sure, that’s also the same date as my great Aunt Hilda’s birthday, she died three months ago. Right there in the middle of an ordinary day, talking about something as normal as finding someone to watch my son for a couple of hours, there has been a brief human connection, a sharing of something meaningful. Not that the dentist and child care aren’t meaningful, just that remembering someone’s great Aunt Hilda and what a nice person she was has more heart connection.
I can’t remember what year I met my husband, but I can tell you the exact day. December 31st. I can’t remember what year my parents’ divorced, but I can tell you their wedding anniversary, minus the year. July 11. I do really well with months and days, I just put the exact year out of my brain.
A whole day can go by without me knowing the date, but when I need to look at the calendar or write a check and I see, Oh, it’s the 5th, I immediately remember, It’s so-and-so’s birthday, even if I haven’t talked to so-and-so in thirty years.
Today’s date, July 27th, has been on my mind for a few weeks now. I know it marks the day my dad died. But when I woke up this morning and started thinking how I would honor my dad today, I totally forgot what else the day signified. So when I announce to my husband and children during breakfast, Hey do you know what today is?, and start to get all choked up, the minute I say the date, July 27th, out loud, I am able to mask my unexpected tears with another announcement, Our puppy is 8 months old today. They say, Oh, and smile, going back to their Cheerios and nectarines. But for me my breakfast now has a little more meaning and I can stop and toast dad in my own little way, with my own little minute with my papa. The day doesn’t stop. There are piano lessons, and sports camp, play dates, and clothes to pick up at the cleaners, but in between these tasks, I can breathe, take a moment, and say, Hi Dad. Adding more meaning to packing a lunch and reminding the dry clean lady, light starch please on the shirts.
So when I call my sister, the only sister who would even want to talk about dad, I’m not looking for a teary walk down memory lane, just a few moments talking with someone who also remembers dad. And who also loved him despite his madness, his sadness, his crazy ways. My sister forgot the date, dates aren’t her thing, but she remembered other things. She remembered that dad liked hot summer days and talking about his feelings.
When I pick flowers for dad’s grave later today, I won’t be all sad and miserable. My eyes will be filled up with happy tears, tears that add just a bit more meaning to my day.