I miss you.
Did I call you last Father's Day? If I didn't I meant to. I know I didn't get a hold of you every single one, but I certainly thought of you. I'm thinking of you today.
I actually think of you every day.
Remember how I used to call you on Mondays? Mom was usually out drawing in Ann Arbor and I knew you'd be a little lonely, so I'd call? I miss that. I still reach for the phone at work when I have a quiet moment on Mondays and want to tell you something, but then I remember.
It's still a small point of pride for me that you would talk to me on the phone. I was the only one you talked to at any length on the phone. I once was talking to one of my brothers and trying to relay something you'd said, and began that conversation with saying you'd called me, and he told me to back up and said, "Wait, what? Dad called you? That happened? Dad called you? Dad doesn't even talk to me on the phone when I all him." You didn't really even like talking to mom on the phone, which drove her nuts. You did say something to me once about how you found it hard to really hear people on the phone, so you didn't like it. But that there was something about the timber of my voice maybe, that made it uniquely audible. Maybe that was it. Or maybe I really did know the right things to say on the phone to hold your attention. (I like to tell myself that, even now.)
I used to tell you all about the kids.
Oh dad, they are so sweet. Aden got her braces off this week. She looks so beautiful and grown up. I don't know if you would have enjoyed her eighth grade graduation ceremony in the crowded auditorium and the noisy gym, but I know you would have been proud of her. I remember having lunch with just you at a Subway shop in Milwaukee near Ian's and my old apartment on the East Side, and I said something in an offhand way about the future and "someday when we have kids" and you teared up. Just the idea of Aden before there even was an Aden made you so happy. And when you met her for the first time and held that perfect baby in your arms you said with wonder, "How can I love anyone this much?" Now she's so tall and capable. She got into the High School of the Arts. She got to walk around the building a little with her grandma recently. I wish you could see it too.
Oh, gosh, and Mona. Dad, that girl just keeps making more and more amazing things. She did a wonderful mural of a coral reef in her classroom that is spectacular. Her teacher was offered one of the new rooms in the soon-to-be-finished addition to the school and she turned it down because she didn't want to leave the mural. At home Mona has been working for days on a dragon out of these mini perler beads that is so elaborate I can hardly believe it. And today she holed up in her closet for a long time to create an insect that I'm trying to convince her she should give to Barrett because he would love it so. She has some new project in mind that she doesn't want to explain to me yet, but that requires new materials. I ordered her some epoxy putty (of a type taxidermists use) that she'll be able to sculpt and that will dry into a hard plastic which she can sand and paint. It will also adhere to other kinds of material, and apparently that's important to whatever it is she wants to do. I can't wait to see what it will be. I think you're right that she's an artistic genius. I told her you thought she should be at Pratt. She was flattered, but agreed with me that she should live at home and stay in Milwaukee for now. Your opinion means a lot to her. She thought you were a great artist.
You would not believe Quinn's hair. He hasn't had a cut in about a year, and it's so crazy long. It doesn't look bad, but I hate not seeing his face. Not a day goes by that I don't think of your "Hair File" when I look at Quinn. I remember when you compiled all of those articles into one of your first binders, and said you just couldn't believe at the time how insane everyone could be over something as trivial as hair length on men and you wanted us to understand what those times were like one day. At least things have improved to the point where I don't see Quinn suffering the kinds of discrimination the Hair File described. That's something. Quinn and I are still taking Latin, and piano is going well. He's nervous about his new classroom assignment for Upper El, because the teacher has a reputation for being strict. I told him strict just means her expectations are clear, so it will be fine. He's good at following rules and completing work on time, so he won't have any problem. I also promised that if it turns out the teacher is a bad fit that we'd do everything we could to move him, but I really don't believe it will come to that. What teacher wouldn't like having Quinn in their class? He loves to learn and he's good at everything. Plus he looks like Cousin It now, so he's like a built in mascot.
Ian was in Poland recently for Army stuff. Did you go to Poland? I forget. I know you never toured Auschwitz like you always intended to, but did you get to any part of Poland? I remember your describing how uncomfortable you were during your military service in Germany when you had to stay in the former camps there so soon after the horrors from the previous war. Why didn't I ask more questions about the places you'd been? Maybe I did. Maybe those just weren't stories you wanted to tell. You liked your life so much better later. You were always much happier telling us stories from after you met mom.
Did I say I missed you? Dad, what am I supposed to do on Father's Day now? I can wish a happy day to my husband and my brothers still. They are all such good dads. I don't have a dad, though. This is my first Father's Day without a dad. All of my Father's Days from now on will be without my dad.
Dad? I wish I could call you. I have so much to tell you, and you would listen to all of it. Even on the phone, because you were always willing to talk to me on the phone. I was so lucky like that.
I love you, Dad. This is a hard day.