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the day my dad died
the day my dad died
July 21, 2022

Today is July 21, which is a date that has been important to me since 2005, because this was the day my dad killed himself.

I think about him all the time, of course. I find his words coming out of my mouth, his tone of voice, his singing, his nonsense. But this day, he's everywhere, all around me.

Dad liked the water. He introduced me to canoeing. I remember sitting next to my sister in the middle of the canoe, on a little folding kid seat that my very crafty Grandpa Doug, dad's dad, had built. I was fascinated by the whirlpools that came off of people's paddles. We did some sort of canoe trip on Minnesota rivers with my dad's brother and sister and their families. I have to learn more about that trip.

I also need to find out more about the catamaran trip he took down the Mississippi with his college friends and my mom in the 70s, which I only heard about after I'd posted about this current trip I'm on now. Where did they start? Where did they finish? What happened along the way? I need to know everything.

I think dad would not just like this trip I'm on, I think he would appreciate it. He'd think it was so cool. I wish I could send him reports on towns I pass through, things I see, and check them against his recollections.

I miss him. Still. A lot.

Seeing Juliet and her overflowing affection for her kids reminded me of dad's overflowing affection for me and my sister. Juliet had a little game with her oldest, and it reminded me of a game dad would play with me. I don't know where it came from, but he'd do it to wake me up. It went like this:

He'd touch my right eyelid, and say, "eye winker."
Then my left eyelid, and say "Tom Tinker."
Then the tip of my nose, and say, "nose dropper."
Then my lips, and say, "mouth opener."
Then my chin, and say, "chin chopper."
And then he'd pause, and wonder aloud, "and what comes next?"
And it was my job to say "gully gully gully," and he'd cry, "oh, yes, gully gully gully!" and tickle my throat.

I've been listening to songs that remind me of him, semi-masochistically, trying to hang onto him a bit. "Rocky Raccoon," which he played so often that the first time I heard it on a record I thought someone else was covering his tune. Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, especially the Great Gate of Kiev. And I've been crying, a lot. Just floating down the river, crying. I'm crying as I write this, in a fabulous brewery that he would've adored in downtown Cape Girardeau.

Dad liked weird coincidences, which he imbued with meaning, sometimes more meaning than was reallly warranted. He was sort of mystically-oriented that way. He would've appreciated that I passed mile 72 this afternoon, because 72 is the age that he would be today, if he was still with us. This picture is from mile 72.

Miss you, da.