Growing up, it was always the first time my dad spit-polished the boat for the summer and we took off for the river, usually late Friday night so the kids would all sleep in the car. Back in those days, it was a the first hot weekend of the year, but now with all of the global warming and such, it's unseasonably cool.
Pulling up the hill to their summer home in Wisconsin (IRS, if you're reading this, what I really mean is "trailer on the river"), the kids could hardly wait to run out of the car to greet him.
Things never stay the same.
Today we helped pack our boat, counted life jackets, greased wheels, and stocked the coolers. And then we waved good-bye as our baby boy towed that big-a$$ boat to the river with his girlfriend and some guy friends for a weekend of skiing, sunning, and river-ratting. Kids in their twenties, like we used to be. When Dad was there.
Luke will still jump from the truck to greet Gma, just like he did in the days of old. She's alone up there every summer now, but loves it. Every day she appreciates the wonder of God's bluffs, the mighty Mississippi, and the peaceful solitude that comes from a life well-lived and the occasional camaraderie of her Wisconsin church ladies.
Seeing them pull out of the driveway was bittersweet, because things haven't quite been the same at the river since Dad's been gone.
As in no longer sitting on the screened-in porch on the bluff overlooking the Mississippi with his coffee in hand.
No longer putsying with his fishing tackle, getting it all meticulously organized and sorted.
No longer driving up to Falling Rock to pick up a box of worms.
No longer swinging by Starks in Prairie Du Chien for the latest beer deals, and an extra Texas fifth of BV, just in case his daughter wants to start drinking. Sorry to let you down, Dad. I still have the bottle you gave me in 1979.
No longer sitting on the sand bar under the umbrella, slathered in sunscreen, but still getting his freckled skin fried.
No longer stopping at the Paddy Wagon (aka Pete's Hamburgers) for the most greasy, onion-y hunk of heaven he's ever had. "I'll have two, please. With."
So instead of heading to the river for a weekend of Memorial Day boating, we stayed home, mowed, did laundry, cleaned up a tad.
And then I went to see my dad.
He was about as chatty as he ever was.
I hope he likes the flower I put on his headstone.
No, Dad, they aren't "weeds."
Some things do stay the same.
Flowers will always be weeds to Dad, and our God never changes.
And I still miss him, oh so much.
Tea today: Genmaicha