Monday, May 30, 2011

'hap'py memorial day

it’s memorial day.
memorial day sucks.
maybe that’s a little harsh.
the idea of memorial day sucks. how about that?
i am not opposed to the remembrance of soliders who died defending their country. i am opposed to soldiers dying. i am opposed, apalled, that little girls will grow up without knowing their fathers. knowing only the idea of them.
my dad’s name was stanley frederick patterson, but everyone called him ‘hap;’ because, as a friend of his wrote, ‘he was so goddamn happy all the time.’
he was a born leader, i’m told. had a beautiful voice – sang tenor in his acapella group. he studied philosophy.  he was a good writer. he loved music. and hunting. he loved his little town. he loved his dad. and his wife. and his baby girl.

i don't know how much of me comes from him, aside from my nose and the way my eyes crinkle in the corners when i smile.  there aren't many people around to tell me his stories.  it's hard to lose someone you love like that.  suddenly.  violently.  and far, far away.  it must be harder, still, to call him up and relive all that you've lost.  

i know this, not only from my own experience, but also from reading the facebook tributes to an old high school friend who died in iraq.  he, too, left behind a young love and a baby girl.  as she gets older, though, she'll have these great stories, passed on by his best friends, by the people he loved and even those who only passed him in the hallways.  

what i remember about randy, aside from a smile that lit up a room, was his hair.  blonde and lush and perfectly feathered.  i also remember his wrestling shoes and how, in our senior year, he ran into me almost every day in a rush to class.  he must have knocked my books out of my hands a hundred times, but he stopped to apologize and pick them up nearly every single time.  he was kind in that way.  (or maybe he was just looking down my sweater.  he was a boy in that way, too.) 

i like to think that as we move through life, the people we meet and the events that shape us come together to form the place we'll go when we die.  and the loved ones who've gone before us wander through those rooms meeting one another and making space for our eventual 'welcome home' soiree.  

and on a day, like today, when i'm thinking of the two of them, i can imagine my dad and my friend having a beer together on the steps leading to the pit of lockers from my old high school - laughing and lamenting and celebrating how much their girls have grown.  whether it's been eight years or 44, time moves way too fast, wouldn't you say?

memorial day is nearly over now, and if the truth me told, i don't celebrate it; to me, it's just a monday - and i celebrated this particular monday by holding bella's hair back as she barfed into a metal bowl in the middle of the living room...and i taught grace how to blow dry her new haircut...and then we all rode our bikes to the market for groceries and ice cream cones.  now, i'm celebrating by doing a two of the things i do best: writing and finishing a cocktail. 

no.  i don't celebrate memorial day on the last monday in may.  i celebrate it every time christopher sings the girls to sleep or helps them with their homework and rides beside them on their bikes.
so...veteran or not. near or far. call your dad. don’t wait until father’s day. ask him to tell you a joke or sing you a song. tell him you love him. just because you can.

that would make a happy memorial day.  


template by