I awoke one morning with clear visions of Daddy teaching me how the guts of an AC unit worked and then another memory of his sitting at the kitchen table trying to drum into my head the notion of compound interest. In the first, he pointed to black tubes with his grease-covered fingers, and though his brow beaded with sweat, his eyes smile-crinkled at my understanding. But in the next, he sat upright with a pencil eraser tapping impatiently at the examples that made no sense to me. “Look here,” he said, his voice raised and frustrated, “you mean you can’t understand this?” I never wanted to talk to him about money, but always, I loved helping him work out there in his garage.
After his death, such nightly memories sucked away my energy. Throughout the day, I felt like bland food with no added salt, no pepper, no spice. Come nightfall, thoughts and memories of him flickered behind my eyelids like a movie-marathon. I saw him laughing, talking, or just looking off into thin air. I saw his hands petting his dog or holding my mother’s hand. I saw him sitting on the couch with his elbow on the armrest. I heard him cuss under his breath when something he fixed broke. I heard him whistling when things he worked on went right. I missed him so much—I still do.
At first, those memories hurt. Leaded with the pain of his suicide, they came with extreme sadness and wild, horrible imaginings of the seconds before he shot himself. Later after time healed the rawness of my grief, my true memories helped me understand that his life meant far more than just how he died.
Memories are a pathway that connects us to others. Memories help me hold my father in a gentle and real place now.