Dandelion Fluff and Other Stuff

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

Nostalgia … rolls around in my mind; flows out of my pen, and falls from my lips like bouncy balls in the middle of the grocery store; an awkward chain reaction … A weird déjà vu I can’t shake …

How easily we fall back into a former self? A scent, a place, a phrase, a word, or a picture, can evoke sensations of who we were and what was important to us once.

The Road Home …

A couple of weeks ago I travelled to California for work. I didn’t get to see my family but the trip brought images to mind that I hadn’t thought of in years.

Like, how I hate to drive in rush hour traffic, not that anyone enjoys it.

Nostalgia speed by as familiar places appeared on exit signs: Manhattan Beach, I-15, Redondo Beach, 110 freeway. Nostalgia rose with familiar neon signs announcing fast food joints I frequent when I visit the Golden State: In-N-Out Burger, Carl’s Jr., Del Taco …

My traveling companion wasn’t moved by any of these things. Inching closer to our destination in bumper to bumper she could have cared less.

But for me … it was miles of memories spanning ages.

Naiveté

My yard was covered with white puffy balls until the lawn service showed up and mowed. Crazy that these seemingly insignificant bulbs made me think of a simpler time.

Nostalgia peaked out from the grass to greet me.

I loved blowing dandelion fluff until one day, who knows when, I started seeing them as weeds, allergens.

I used to call them beautiful flowers. I would pick the bright yellow blooms by the bunch; keeping the stems in a wet paper towel to keep them from dying. Sometimes drinking the white liquid that we called “dandelion milk”.

The sight of my lawn with its snowy vegetation generated a flashback of that white halter top with the red trim I had at the age of five. Playing in the front yard with my older sister who was wearing her white halter top with the red trim. (Mom dressed us alike and people thought we were twins.) Our heads thrown back in laughter as we polluted the air with our wishes. Twirling.

Remarkable … I wonder if she remembers.

Summertime

Summer has finally made an appearance in Michigan; temperatures topping the 80s. I can sit outside listening to my dudes’ laughter while being eaten alive by mosquitos.

Nostalgia calls to me with loud, overly bright, music from squeaky speakers.

Chasing ice cream trucks and riding my lavender bike with the white basket to the library. Dinging and scraping up my toes because I wore flip-flops instead of closed shoes when I rode. Chocolate covered fingers as I tried to ride and read and eat all at the same time. Stopping at every street corner trying to lick my fingers free of the mess.

Footloose and fancy free. My favorite time of year.

Father’s Day

Summer brings with it a time and privilege of celebrating fathers. When soap-on-a-rope and nose hair trimmers and Old Spice or Brut after-shaves are plentiful.

Nostalgia creeps up on me, playing a sad song of “I miss him.”

My mind’s eye flashes images like a slide show of dad holding a beer and grilling chicken in the back yard. Smoking a cigarette and drinking coffee over the morning paper, specifically the sports page. Running to the corner store to get lottery tickets before 8 p.m. Puttering in the garden and telling me to shoo the birds out of the fruit trees. I was happy to play human scarecrow for his sake.

I still dream of him.

Bittersweet holiday.

Pathways

There are many other examples where triggers like these sent me on a mental migration to another time; another me. All of which serve to remind me of how carefree life can be when your only responsibility is to be a kid and make memories.

We are just weeks away from our family vacation. I will not work. I may spend some time writing because I’ve been negligent here and my nine, soon-to-be-ten, year old keeps referencing my “good book” or at least what he’s heard of it. Asking: When are you going to finish?

More than anything … I want to start the collection of experiences that my boys will later look back on and label “nostalgic”. Dandelion Fluff Occasions.

Lazy days away from our normal routine. We will visit new places and some old. We will spend time with my family and reminisce about childhood:

  • Feast on the flavors of home.
  • Savor the sounds of long ago.
  • Embrace the echoes of innocence.

Nostalgia … What voices of the past sneak up on you? What childhood stages do you want to relive? What are your dandelion fluff occasions?

Advertisements

DAD DAYS – When I Miss Him Most

I lost my Dad more than 8 years ago. It doesn’t get any easier with each passing year as I thought it would.

With the soulful tones of Luther Vandross’s Dance with My Father filling the car, I pulled away from my childhood home knowing that homecoming would never be the same without Dad there to greet me along side my Mom.

  • In childhood, Dad was my superhero. He could do no wrong in my eyes.
  • In adolescence, Dad taught me to dream big and believe in my ability to make those dreams come true.
  • In early adulthood, Dad was my life-coach; counselor; financial advisor; professional mentor; and friend. I consulted him on every major decision.
  • In marriage, Dad was supposed to be my teacher and support for parenting and relationships. But he died shortly after I found out I was pregnant with my oldest son.

I mourn the fact that my boys will never know their Papa Dave. When I see them display mannerisms that are undeniably Dad’s I am sad that they don’t understand how they came by them. That they inherited them from Dad. But I am thankful for this circle of life that gives me such moments to remember Dad.

I’ve come to romanticize Dad’s existence; often only speaking of the kind things he did, like giving his last dollar to someone panhandling outside the grocery store. Or how he always had a fresh pot of coffee brewing and willing ear to hear the worries of others who stopped by for his wise counsel.

Now that he’s gone, I don’t want to take him down from the pedestal we’ve placed him on.

I miss the denim jacket and ball cap. The white running shoes without laces that he tried to dye brown. I miss the quick wit and easy laughter.

I miss him saying things like, “Someone call the police and make this one play,” if you took too long making your move in a game of cards or Yatzee.

I miss how he would laugh at his own jokes, saying, “Now that’s a knee-slapper.” Usually, they weren’t funny but that didn’t stop him from enjoying it.

I miss the songs that he would sing while playing the spoons or harmonica or mouth-pick:

Hambone, hambone, where ya been? Going around the corner and going again. Beans and cornbread had a fight. Beans knocked cornbread out of sight.

Or,

I can tell by your knees you’ve been climbing those coconut trees. You goin’ look like a monkey when you get. When you get old and grey people goin’ look at you and say, I can tell by your knees you’ve been climbing those coconut trees.

I missed him singing along to his favorite LPs …

  • Bad Bad LeRoy Brown (Jim Croce)
  • Charlie Brown(The Coasters)

I do my best to share stories about the man who shaped my life but sometimes feel like it’s not enough. He was larger than life and touched many lives. Words alone don’t capture that well.

More than 8 years have gone by and I still have days where missing him paralyzes me. Still have days where I dream of him because I am faced with a major decision and I need his advice.

On these days I declare DAD DAYS. When people ask me, “What’s wrong?” I simply say, “I’m having a Dad Day.”

When DAD DAYS come I sit and listen to Luther Vandross singing:

“…If I could get another chance, another walk, another dance with him, I’d play a song that would never ever end. How I’d love, love, love, to dance with my father again … Never dreamed that he would be gone from me. If I could steal one final glance, one final step, one final dance with him, I’d play a song that would never ever. ‘Cause I’d love, love, love, to dance with my father again …”

My heart yearns for him. Yet I know God’s will for our lives involved saying goodbye when we did. But even as I sit here typing, my kids playing innocently in the next room, I can’t contain the tears.

Cherish the moments you have with loved ones.

Happy Father’s Day DRH … Today’s a DAD DAY because I miss you most at times like these.