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Jun 18

Coffee Shop Chronicles, Father’s Day edition: Saying goodbye

FullSizeRender (3)Starbucks

Rt. 40, Delaware

April 2006

Last week, I hugged Roomie down in Maryland, and that’s when it hit me: I’m saying goodbye.

I almost cried.

I’m moving soon, so it’s time for those farewells, that talking to the people I should’ve been talking to all along. My Grande Java Chip Frappuccino turns into a venti with extra ice added. More room to cry in my proverbial cup of coffee, if I did such a thing.

It was a wonderful chat, in a Starbucks of all places. We discussed families. Her boy is having some of those young child sensitivities, including separation anxiety. I totally get that today.

Her second baby is due in August, and she thinks she’s having a girl. Will a family of my own be in the future?  We laughed about keeping kids occupied with a video or DVD for an hour. Years ago, we never would. Now, that’s an hour well spent!

I lamented our distance to come. She said, “We’ll always be friends,” casual as if saying the rain has stopped outside.

Then she drove away. When I arrived, the parking space next to my car was empty, so she had parked there. An hour later, when I left, her spot was still empty.

Coffee shops should be places to say hello, welcome people with hugs and squeals, or at least a handshake. I’m here in my usual spot drinking my usual drink, missing my familiar places already. I’ve taken them for granted.

Looking out the window into the dark night, my car’s in her usual place, headlights facing towards this store. Too many nights like this, I sat in that car, talking to Dad on the phone about his frustration that Mom wasn’t getting better and she didn’t seem to be trying. We talked and I stared into Starbucks, feeling empty even though there were lights inside. I willed the night to go away so I could forget him, Mom, and my own heartbreak.

Dad’s been gone for one year and three months. I miss those talks. They weren’t all bad. We compared notes every week about which one of us saved the most money with our grocery store coupons that week. It was a pretty even matchup. We talked about my job, his bus rides and talking to the regulars there, Pittsburgh sports and how terrible my high school teams were playing, and always the weather.

Dad would be tickled that I’m moving to Detroit, the place where he and Mom honeymooned. They toured the Ford manufacturing line, and that’s all I ever knew about it.

I wish I could ask him now. I’m curious about what else they did.

As if a higher power is watching over me, a little girl and daddy walk out of the Red Robin next door. Pink shirt, jeans faded, red balloon. Leftovers, two boxes of Styrofoam. Dad’s in long sleeves, maroon, and tan pants. He buckles her in the backseat, a minivan with silver doors and auto close. He puts the food on the front passenger seat. They back out now–how charming, how happy and content. Unlike a family of four just moments ago: the mom yelled at one girl while dad takes another girl in the restaurant.

What a shame.  A wasted opportunity.  I’d never take that for granted.  My throat closes up at the thought.

I can’t take this. I need to write. My journal is filled so far with my newspaper article transcripts, notes about the houses we’ve already looked at in Michigan, reactions from my coworkers at my announcement and, funny this, a list of the four closest Starbucks to the area we’re looking at moving to. Now I add to that:

“At K’s parents’ house, I couldn’t find my School Days book. Did I take it to Delaware already?  Worry, worry. An hour ago, found it. Looked through it, found Krista-TN stuff, letters Dad wrote me. Read one, his familiar print, all caps. A Penn State item taped in the letter. Weather report. Shows he videotaped for me. Mom and Star Trek group news. I missed Dad and I cried. I talked to him, to no one, about how I miss sharing this Detroit move news with him. I have to believe he knows, but I miss hearing his voice, his thoughts on it all. Cried more. Then had the strength to go into our Home Theater room and watch my wedding video. Father-in-law took it, used to think that was distracting from our ceremony. I am so blessed to have those images. Dad smiling. A smile! A cough. His large glasses, his cane. And somehow, that comforted me. I still cried.”

Gotta stop here. I’m about to cry again. Time to go out to my car and cry into my cup of Frappuccino. Time to say goodbye to this night.

4 comments

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  1. Kelly Bixby

    Your love for your dad shines throughout this piece. Sending hugs your way. 💗

    1. dwhirsch

      Thanks Kelly. Always appreciated.

  2. Kook-Wha Koh

    Very emotional story.
    I enjoyed to read it.

    1. dwhirsch

      Thanks Kook-Wah. Time passes, the memories don’t. And that’s a good thing.

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