A list in honor of Father’s Day
Letting me curl around his hand like a snail on a branch, for hours at a time, when I was colicky.
Plucking me one-handed from a pool I fell into fully clothed, moments after telling me “don’t get so close to that pool.”
Killing Santa softly, then expanding the revelation to the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy (and telling my mother later, “Santa went quietly, and he didn’t go alone.”).
Shaking his head and saying, “That’s not how this works” when I announced that I was grounding myself (for clogging a drain with dirt, then the butter knife I tried to use to clear said dirt, then the tongs I tried to use to retrieve the butter knife, then dish soap to “clean the dirt”).
Showing me how to fish, and how to kill a fish.
Holding my hand when I cried after killing a fish.
Teaching me the facts of life by giving me a book to read, then following the book with an open-ended “ask me anything” session.
Not laughing when I asked, “Does the man know he’s doing it?”
Weaving poetry and prose through my life and making me love words, even before I knew all that words could do, just because they came from him.
Reading every story and poem I wrote, even the ones I wrote at fourteen, and giving me genuine feedback that never included, “Rip this up and burn it.”
Shaking his head and saying, “That’s still not how this works” when I announced I was grounding myself for running the car through the garage door from the inside.
Moving me across the country in a car without a working speedometer or air conditioning, but with a very functional stereo.
Letting me blast a steady soundtrack of jazz and 1970s funk on the stereo for 3,000 miles, because I had an unrequited crush on a saxophonist and was desperate to show someone how much I’d learned about Michael Brecker and Branford Marsalis.
Crawling under the foundation of every dwelling I ever occupied to check “what’s really going on with this place.”
Responding to every question I asked about every dwelling I ever occupied, including “what kind of wrench should I use,” “why isn’t this working,” “what does that beeping mean,” and “what made this poop?”
Removing small, mummified bodies from the attic when the answer to the last question was “bats.”
Murmuring from across the country, “You are going to be okay,” when I wept on the phone that I may never be a parent.
Saying it with enough authority to make me believe it.
Murmuring from across the country, “that will be the luckiest baby in the world,” when I wept on the phone that I was going to be a parent.
Letting my infant children curl around his hand like snails on a branch, for hours at a time, when they were colicky.
Demonstrating repeatedly, and patiently, and quietly, that he loved me.
Making everything better with hot sauce.
Audrey Burges can be found at audreyburges.com, on Twitter (@audrey_burges), on Facebook (@aburgeswrites), and anywhere that advertises sales for vintage pottery she doesn’t need.