06 November, 2014

{this memory} 119

This is the story behind last Monday's {this moment}.

It's mid-December 2013 and we're at my parents' house in upstate New York.

I really, really, really love this picture.

My father, Thom, is sitting on the couch in our family room and holding my then-22-month-old son, Finn. This was my dad's usual perch, from my point of view. He had an acrylic laptop stand that allowed him to easily position his MacBook in front of him and swivel it away when he needed to get up (using only one arm, of course).

That December, I was interviewing for jobs in anticipation of finishing my fellowship, and I adopted my parents' house as a sort of home base. Finn stayed with my parents (and my sister and her fiancé, who were living there as well), while I flew back and forth to Boston, Houston, etc.

For the last several years, my father always sent each member of our family a Jacquie Lawson interactive advent calendar. Each day brings a new mini app, which becomes a part of the whole Christmas scene - it's pretty cool, actually. For instance, on one day, you design snowflakes; later, when you are visiting the Christmas tree scene, you see your snowflakes falling outside the window.

It is especially awesome if you are not quite two.

Every morning while I was away, my son would sit on my dad's lap and they would open up the new scene and game for that day. Which is what they are doing in this picture.

A few weeks ago, I opened last year's calendar and showed Finn, explaining that this was a game he played with his grandpa. Every now and then, I try to tell him stories and remind him how much his grandfather loved him.

For a long time after my dad died, I burst into tears every time I walked into the family room and he was not sitting there - he was always sitting there, with his oxygen tubing threaded around his ears and running out through the hallways and up the stairs. I couldn't bring myself to touch his glasses, sitting on his laptop desk. Eventually, after I moved back home permanently, we gave away the old red living room set to make room for my (modern, streamlined, slate-grey) sectional. We repainted the navy and cream walls in a warm grey. We put away all but a few of my dad's framed Hard Rock Café pins, which dominated an entire wall (framing them was a painstaking task that took me several hours), and painted that wall a bold turquoise, in preparation for a new gallery of family photos.

As much as I secretly openly hated the red plush furniture - which contained enough fur from my sister's gigantic yellow lab to knit a blanket - I have to admit that I'm a little sad that it's gone now. It feels as though, if I could see it still, I might see my dad sitting there too.

I'm looking forward to this year's calendar.