I’m at my childhood home… but it’s not the same.
I wake up in the morning and go downstairs to fix a cup of coffee. My dad is not sitting in his chair reading the newspaper. I don’t smell coffee. I don’t hear his voice saying “Mornin’ Babe! You sleep okay?”
I take my coffee outside to the front porch and watch the sun rise over 12 Mile Island on the Ohio River. My dad does not come out to tell me how humid it’s supposed to be today.
My dad is not in the kitchen cooking bacon. There are no eggs on the counter getting “the chill off” so they are just right for frying. ESPN is not on the tv. The kitchen is quiet.
The house is changing more and more everyday as we clean out each closet, cabinet, and drawer. My parent’s closet and bathroom are bare. My dad will never wear his University of Kentucky t-shirts again or his favorite jeans. His work clothes will help men who cannot afford nice clothes for an interview. I hope his immaculately pressed and starched dress shirts bring them confidence. Thinking about how much my dad’s clothes can help makes packing them in a box just a little bit easier.
But it still pains my heart as I hug his soft turtleneck and remember how it felt to hug him when he wore it.
Rooms are beginning to fill up with “stuff.” Some of it will be packed. Some of it will be sold. Some of it will move to my mom’s little assisted living apartment.
The garage has become a sorting area between trash, items to sell, and items to ponder. My dad’s car is not there. It’s in my driveway, 5 hours north of my parent’s house.
The grass is just a tad long, but not bad. My dad’s long-time friend cuts the grass every week. He tells me that he has to “keep PL’s yard lookin’ nice.”
There’s some drift wood on the beach and dried river mud leftover from the last time the “river was up.” But the dock built by my dad and Uncle Ronnie (at least 30 years ago) is still strong. That makes me incredibly proud.
Tonight, I’m lying in my parent’s bed, in the divot made by my dad. I am staring out the windows watching a summer storm over the river. I’m remembering every feature of my dad’s face and how his laugh always made me smile.
I’m also fighting off a huge sense of guilt. My mom is still alive yet I’m going through her stuff like she’s not. She wants to be here, in her home, but she no longer can take care of herself. It makes me so sad. I wish I could do something more. I remind myself that I didn’t always like the decisions she made for me as a child. But she always had my best interest in mind… even if I didn’t think so at the time.
This house is full of memories. The land itself holds a lot of our family’s history. I’m still making memories now with my family… just without two major people who I love.
The house is not the same… but I do still feel the love that has lived here far beyond my existence. I know my dad is with me… but it’s really not the same.
I miss you, Daddy. I’m not the same without you.