Here’s what we would do:
My favorite moments with my dad were when he would recount stories from his youth. He was in a motorcycle gang, and had some ridiculous adventures. Once, he shared with me how he earned the nickname “Eggs”. Another time, he told me a story of how a friend of his had successfully stopped traffic for a small animal or insect. With their helmets and jackets on, my dad said he and his friend must have looked somewhat official because no one questioned what they were doing. He had another friend who carried a fake snake around with him, and my dad told me stories of people who thought it was real.
Those stories remind me somewhat of things my friends and I have done. I love small pranks and teasing. I used to park my car and leave it at my church all weekend while spending the nights at friends’ houses. One Sunday morning, I returned to find my car entirely covered in saran wrap. The icing on the cake was a huge stuffed rooster attached to the hood. It became less humorous when I realized I had to unwrap my car before I could make my way home… At Christmas party gift exchanges, people rarely brought serious gifts. One year, someone bought live grasshoppers and another person brought meal worms.
I also had a group of friends in high school who used to dress up in matching 70’s vintage clothing and go to Astroworld. They would choose a signal, and when it was given, all of them would freeze in their tracks. They would stay frozen for minutes, and sometimes over an HOUR. People thought they must be employed at Astroworld…it was quite ridiculous and amazing to watch.
If I had one more day with my dad, I would want him to repeat ALL his own stories to me, and whatever else he could remember. We would sit on a porch outside and he would smoke cigarettes while I drank something cold. I would want to know more about what he was like, what his friends were like, what his brothers were like. I didn’t know until I was 18 years old that he’d had a wife before my mom…I want to know about her too. How did they meet? What was she like? What were his parents like? What was his relationship like with his mom and dad?
Something else I would do if I had one more day with my dad: I would play music with him. I’d want my brother and sister to be there too. We could take turns on instruments and just jam together. I think that would take up several hours.
Then, I’d ask him to take me for a long ride on his motorcycle. I never got to ride it with him. We would play music loudly- a mix of electronic music and classic rock. I would want to ride to Galveston. We’d get off the bike and watch the water for a while; we might take a walk, but we wouldn’t talk much. We would go to a bar together too, and order tonic water. He would be wearing cut off jean shorts that frayed at the ends with a white t-shirt and skull cap.
The next thing we would do is sit in bed with a lap top. He would tell me how amazing it was, and I would be interested. I’d want to know more about what he did for a living, and I’d want him to explain it until I understood. Then, he would shut the lap top and ask me how I was doing and I would tell him with tears in my eyes.
“I miss you. I was so busy blaming you for my sadness that I became resentful and distanced myself from you. I felt awkward around you, and even though I had dreams of being close to you, I never took any action. I imagined myself opening up to you and holding your hand, and I feel sorry that I never did. I knew that you missed me, and I ignored that fact. You invited me to come to your home, and I rarely did. Things happened exactly the way they were supposed to, but I grieve the fantasy of how I wanted things to be.
I love you. You feel things so deeply that you rarely have words for your feelings, and I identify with that today. You are stronger than I ever realized during your life. I admire you and I am proud of you and who you became. I hope you know how special you are, and how worthy of love you are. I know you left us the perfect way, and in the perfect timing. Sometimes, I feel just a bit of regret, so I am really grateful for this day.”
That’s what I would say. Or something like that anyway.