Did you have a good Father’s Day? When I went to work on Monday morning, that was the ambient question.
Oh, I had plans. I planned to leave work more or less on time around 3:00 in the afternoon. I’d dash home, change out of stinky, sweaty chef’s clothes (to those who think it’s a crisp, cool, seriously starched uniform: you’re watching waaaaaay too much Food Network), load the dogs into the truck, and go down to the spot along the river where my sister and I had scattered our father’s ashes about three years ago. I try to visit the area a few times a year: the date he died, his birthday, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The site gazes alternately upon cross-country skiers among whom he was once, hence his chosen site; resident Canada geese; ducks, ducks, more ducks, their ducklings and children feeding them; and finally Canada geese and cross-country skiers as the year dwindles. We’ve lost so many that it’s what passes for a family site here where I live. Though I’m the only one who lives here.
I try, I really do, not to feel useless and incompetent when my own plans fall through. They were all very well and good, but for a little family with no fathers, it was . . . a day. The son was facing having his cat (whom I had given to him), who had just been diagnosed with an aggressive and malignant oral tumor, put to sleep the next morning. Sunday was an option, but “I can’t remember Father’s Day this way,” he sobbed. Jesus, where was his own father in all this? Or his funny, generous father-in-law-to-be? The daughter was in the process of being quite literally abandoned by her boyfriend of seven years. He is actively engaged in punishing her for letting him know two, count them, TWO years ago when she returned from an international summer workshop in Italy to which she had won a scholarship and at the end of which she won the prize as the most outstanding dancer that she would eventually be moving to Los Angeles. He admitted that he didn’t believe that she “would actually do it.” He informed her on Father’s Day that he would be moving out of their apartment within the week. Leaving her with not so much as a mat to sleep on nor a chair in which to sit to eat a bowl of cereal. She isn’t moving to LA until early October, nearly, now that I count them, two and a half years after the, uh, communication of her plan. He was invited to go along, by the effing way. Thank God she owns some pots, pans, and plates. And a cat of her own. Mercifully, also, a friend’s mother owns a large home, the lower level of which is fully furnished and the daughter can live there rent-free beginning the first of July. With her cat. That way, she can keep up her class-rehearsal-performance schedule and keep her teaching jobs until she moves. Along with her pots and pans. And cat. Thank God for kind people.
I digress. I came home from work utterly drained. Notwithstanding family issues, it had been an intense and completely thankless week at work, Sunday especially so. I lay down to take a nap, and set my alarm clock for an hour’s rest: 5:00. That would give me time to at the very least call my sister’s husband and wish him a happy day in their time zone, feed the animals and myself, and fall back into bed. I woke up at 9:30 that night. I skipped most of the steps, managing to feed the animals before nailing myself back to the bed. Repeat on Monday. By today, Tuesday, today, I was so hungry I could have cropped the lawn like a lamb. If I’d had time. I had a seriously angry headache. On top of which I went in to work on a day off for a weekly meeting about upcoming events because there are several big ones over the next few days. When I explained to the chef with whom I work that I would come in the next day, Wednesday, also a day off to help with that day’s events and, as well, get myself organized for the rest of the week, he basically said yeah, ‘k. I felt something snap.
What do you do when life pulls out all the stops? When you feel like you’ve given blood and they’ve taken it all? What, when you have no more to give, yet still more is demanded? Christ, a schooled chef and I can’t even feed myself nor do my job in a way that makes any freaking difference. I recently came across this brilliant interview with Gabrielle Hamilton. Cut and paste it into your browser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=We4Qh_KWoNE. I wish to heaven I had her gift of intelligent wit. And here is my experience with reading Blood, Bones, Butter (a wonderful, readable, utterly consumable autobiography) in public. I hope both will give you a good laugh at your own imperfections. God knows, they did me at mine.
I promise that I’ll get to my dad’s site soon. As for my husband, I know he knows we miss him. Profoundly.
But please, someone save us from another Father’s Day like this one.