Monday, October 03, 2022

October and the trees are stripped bare of all they wear

Dear Dad,

Today is your birthday.

This morning I said to Mama, "It's Dad's birthday today." 

To which she quietly replied, "I know."

Of course she knows. You were together over 50 years. That's a lot of birthdays together.

I guess I just said it to recognize it.


It's grey and chilly and pouring in DC, and really kind of wretched. I walked Wanda this morning and was rather shocked and insulted by how cold it was, in fact.

I thought hurricanes were all about warm air.

You used to pronounce it "hyuricane" and I never knew why.


Recently I learned that I walk like you.

I was walking with my yoga teacher  and his partner after class and he told me that the way I walk contributes to my issue with tightness in my lower back. 

And then he demonstrated my walk. It was an exact imitation. 

So then he also showed us how his partner walks, in contrast to me. Also spot on. She said, "I walk like my dad."

I said, "You know, I bet I walk like my dad."

And a couple days later I told a dear friend about Asrat imitating my walk and she said, "You walk just like your dad."

Which makes me think about how you and I would go out for walks together and you'd say, "Stand up straight! Shoulders back! Stomach in!" 

I'd do all those things and then you'd say, "Sphincter tight!" 

I laughed every time.


Sometimes these realizations make me think about my brother. I wonder if he notices things like this in himself once in a while. 

I wonder if his children have features or expressions or whatever that are just so exactly you or Mama or me.

Distance, after all, doesn't erase DNA. 


In August, when Nick, the kids and I went to camp, Phil came and stayed with Mom so she wasn't all alone. They had a great time.

During that week, one of your friends from when you were in Afghanistan called to say one of your Peace Corps friends had died. I asked how many were left from your group, and Mom said three.

I think of how lucky you were (and by extension how lucky I was and still am) to have met such extraordinary people and kept them in your lives for so long. 

Maude's daughter Iris and our India will be friends one day.  Geography is challenging, but let's be clear: Denver and DC are a lot closer than Bangladesh to Philippines or just about everywhere else Maude and I were growing up. 

We're all in the same country, and we will make this happen.


Jordan is well and away taller than me now, and India is getting there. She's outgrown my sneakers.

I realized this fall when India started 5th grade that she was the same age I was when we moved to the US for the first time.

I remember my first day of 5th grade. We were supposed to fill out an index card with our home phone number and the number of our bus and I didn't know either.

She walks to school, and it's a school she's attended since she was four.

Halloween is fast approaching, and our alley is doing trick-or-treating. I remember how, until we moved to the US, you'd drive us from American house to American house to trick-or-treat. 

I think Halloween is fairly popular globally now.


We're all doing OK. Pretty well, in fact. Maybe you know this.

I hope you know this. 

It's your birthday, and I miss you.



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