Writing About My Father, Day 16
My father is a good conversationalist. Before he became ill, he would spend countless hours on the Interwebs going from link to link reading whatever he could get his hands on and sharing it during long discourses from his perch at the kitchen table. (Speaking of what he could get his hands on, my Dad was the king of finding ways to watch paid content for free, which, I admit, the wanna-be bad kid in me really admired.) One of my favorite conversations with him took place last year as I was taking a workday exercise break, talking to him on my cell as I walked down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol. Not only is he never one to lack an opinion but he’s also the mayor of conspiracy theory town. All I needed to do was say “Congress…” and “Obama” to get him started on a twenty-minute spiel. I love the rhythm of my father’s voice when he’s off on a subject. There’s a certain Guyanese lilt he’s never lost though he’s lived in the US more than 40 years, a certain music caught somewhere between tenor and baritone. There are the certain words he pronounces as if he’s still in Georgetown and his favorite phrases, “You have to undahstand” and “Edgar Cayce and them guys….” My father’s voice hits my ear like the rise and fall of a baseball announcer’s play-by-play on a summer day when nothing can go wrong even if you did grow up a Mets fan, like the wax and wane of a June breeze through the window as I nap like a cat in a patch of sun. My father’s voice has only been angry once or twice when he’s spoken to me. There is plenty of anger in that house—he seems to be in a perpetual state of fussing with his wife and my little brother—but rarely is his anger directed toward me. There is a certain preachiness when he comments on my weight or tells me once again that if my sister and I had grown up with him, we’d understand about money, but mostly when he talks to me, I feel like a favorite child. It’s not because of what he’s saying—after all we are only talking about what he’s watching on TV or why I should vote for the Green Party—but during those snatches of conversation, we are connected. And if I listen with my summer ears, the ones tuned to the pitch of warm light streaming through a window, that is if I don’t listen too hard, if I listen moored only to the present not the past, with my father’s voice in my ears, I can believe we know each other.