Wednesday, June 13, 2012

...I Fought the Blot...and the Blot Won...


Holidays and special occasions can be difficult when you’ve lost someone you care about.

I miss my dad all the time and naturally I’m thinking about him a lot now with Father’s Day around the corner. 

When my dad got sick that week before he passed, he was watching TV when he … let’s say tossed his cookies. I was going to say he called Earl, but doesn’t seem right to use that expression when his brother Earl preceded him in passing.

My mom cleaned the mess but at the most random times the stain would come back, stay awhile and disappear. It varied in size and shape and I swore to my mom it was a sign. She thought it was a sign that he didn’t move a bit faster and make it off the carpet to the bathroom.

I never determined the pattern of the returning stain before she moved but I wished I had paid closer attention. I’m sure it was something.

After my mom moved, she found a restaurant in the area that made pretty good Coney dogs and she would stop in periodically for a pick up.  I went in one day to pick up her order. “Now before you go in I should tell you there’s a regular customer in there who looks weirdly familiar.  He’ll be sitting at that little island right next to the cakes. Oh, and if the cake looks fresh, get a slice of caramel.”


I go in, give my name and look to the left and see my Dad smiling back at me. It was the scariest, most accurate, look-alike ever: the face, the skin, the smile, the gargantuan hands. I smiled back and tried not to freak out.

When I got back to the car my mom asked, “Did you see anyone you knew?”

And in the safety of the car I had my freak out.

I went back in there every chance I got and he was always there. I never had the nerve to ask him, “what is the message you want me to have, father?!?!?” but boy, oh, boy did I want to.

One day he just disappeared.

A couple of years ago I started seeing my Dad-alike everywhere.  He never spoke to me but he always smiled.  I was kind of stressed at the time, so I actually took it as a pleasant comfort. I found myself looking for him. And I kept wanting to work up the nerve to speak to him but it never happened.

So a couple nights ago I’m making notes for this project I’m working on and I’m using one of my dad’s old pens. These were the good kind with the serious ink in them. It’s probably almost as old as I am and it writes really well.

I was snapping the cap off and on, reading over some stuff and I guess I didn’t snap it back on good enough one of those times because I sat it down for a second and a blue ink circle flowered on my pink summer bedspread.

“Crap!” (and yes I said, “Crap”)

I ran for a towel, wet it way too much and slung it at the ink spot. I blotted like a champion and the spot fought back by ballooning and forming a halo that was a shade lighter than the ink.

“Son of a bundt cake…” (yes, I said that.)

I couldn’t remember if it was peroxide or alcohol that breaks up ink. I opted for peroxide. (The answer is: alcohol. Peroxide cleans blood well, not ink) and now my fingers, the towel and a significant chunk of the bedspread are various shades of blue.

It was too late to call my mom and it never occurred to me go look it up online. I was too busy sprinkling baking soda. And staring at vinegar and bleach and trying to remember which one you were never supposed to mix with  baking soda.

My father, the science guy,  would be so ashamed.

I turned the fan on to dry the half wet sheets and worked on cleaning my hands, the spot on my shirt that I apparently touched and the blue streak on my face. I looked at my hair to see if I had touched that too without thinking.

I slept hard which is strange for me and woke up to a stain that looked like, I don’t know, a faded blue ink blot.

The next day driving home I just narrowly missed the craziest accident.

My car stopped inches away from a guy who decided to try at the last minute to make a left turn onto Ford Rd. during the afternoon rush. Everyone knows you can’t make a safe left on to or off of Ford unless you have a traffic light.  You’ll never make it without some sort of calamity.

The whole tail end of this guy’s car was hanging out in my lane.

I couldn’t believe the brakes on my car, but I remember I didn’t feel panic or fear. Mostly hope I think.

The cars going west on Ford had stopped to let the loser guy in since he was getting ready to cause some major gridlock for the eastbound cars. Loser didn’t move and that’s when I noticed a car coming up way too fast behind me probably wondering why I was stopped in the middle of the street, but not wondering enough to slow down.  I sighed and threw my hands up, “Oh for Pete’s sake, what is the point?” (Said that, too)

The car behind me swerved around cutting off  a very large Ford 250, 350 or 450-ish looking truck who ran up onto the curb.  He got right back on the road and drove on like he never left it. It was then that I noticed that the cars holding the westbound lane were Ford vehicles. The swerving car and the monster truck also Ford. I drive a Ford.

My dad worked in Safety Technology. For Ford.

I made it home safely.

Got in, kicked off my shoes and went into the bedroom to drop on the bed to catch my breath.

Now maybe it was just me. But that stain had a dark blue perfectly round center with lighter streaks radiating from it. It kind of looked like a sunshine. Or that representation of it that we all draw when we’re little and can’t do a better job yet.

Like this, but blue...


I smiled and rested next to it for a few minutes.

By the time I had finished my workout, showered and got my dinner going on the stove it was gone. Back to a simple faded blue ink blot.

It’s okay though. I think this time I got the message.

It’s impossible to have a happy Dad memory without a Temptations song being involved
The Temptations – Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue)

Lesley Gore – Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows

And in case you’re wondering…
Bobby Fuller Four – I Fought the Law

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