Friday, April 28, 2006

Want to SuperSize Your Sign?

My business partner's father passed away suddenly 40 days after my dad died. It was the most bizarre and unbelievable situation, to have both of us facing the loss of our fathers in such a compressed timeframe, and yet it has been tremendously comforting to be able to talk to each other about where we are right now/where we think we'll be in 6 months/how our families and kids are doing/etc. We both have said that we would never wish it on each other, but if it had to happen we are glad that it happened this way so we can have each other as we navigate this new road without our dads.

Yesterday we talked about "signs." You know, signs. Those things wanted by almost every grieving person on the planet that will tell you that your loved one is okay and that they did not suffer at the end, and that you believe will give you some kind of mental tranquility in the current emotional chaos that is your new life.

I was lying in bed awake the other night talking to my Dad in my head, basically doing a total low-rent off-Broadway version of Yentl (think Julia Roberts in the starring role with Ryan Seacrest instead of Mandy Patinkin. Yeah. That bad):
Papa Can You Hear Me?
Papa Can you See Me?
Papa Can You Find Me in the Night?
I remember everything you taught me
Every book I've ever read...
Can all the words in all the books Help me to face what lies ahead?
The trees are so much taller And I feel so much smaller;
The moon is twice as lonely And the stars are half as bright...
Papa, how I love you... Papa, how I need you.
Papa, how I miss you Kissing me good night.

Anyway, my point is that I always thought myself above the whole "I need a sign" thing. I've always figured that having real faith means that you don't need tables to shake or pictures to fall off walls in order to believe that someone you love is still with you, or to believe that they are indeed fine. But talking to my friend who definitely wants one made me kind of want one too. (Yes, I'm in third grade...)

So there I was in bed doing my low-rent Yentl thing, asking my Dad to send me something so I can know he's okay. And then I started saying, "Oooh, actually Dad, don't, because that would really freak me out if my lights turned on or my window opened. So maybe don't do anything weird but do something normal. But, then again, if it's normal how will I know it's a sign? Damn. Okay, back to the drawing board. But whatever you do, do NOT show up in my bedroom. That will be weird."

So I kind of gave up on the sign thing, even though I secretly wouldn't have minded hearing a still, small Scottish voice in my head say, "E! Light a match, will ye?!" as I left the bathroom. So I figured it was not to be, as it is generally not to be for 99.97% of the world's population who (I have to remind myself) have been exactly where I am today in perhaps much worse circumstances. And then I wondered that if perhaps this "sign" business is for real, that maybe the person waiting for one is my Dad, waiting for a sign from me that *I* am okay rather than vice-versa. I don't know.

All I know is that today my sign arrived.

In the form of a wee old man wearing black calf-high socks with very white sneakers, khaki shorts, a button down shirt and a funky hat. At a McDonalds. Having his free coffee. (Is this sounding familiar to those of you who knew my Dad?!)

No kidding. He walked into the McD's (which I have to say is in a random location far from my home and was a totally random and unplanned place for me to be at that time), made a beeline for me and The Bambina (who was putting herself outside a 6 piece nugget happy meal), smiled at me widely and announced, "Good god, you're blond! In 30 years your hair will match your {white} T-shirt! Beautiful! Absolutely beautiful!" He then went up to order and came right back, sat two seats away from us and started telling me about his daughter and grandchildren and talking to the Bambina as if he'd known her for years and of course she's not scared of him because why would she be nervous about an old man like him?!"

Add to this moment the fact that The Bambina looked at him as he walked away to order, then looked at me quizzically and said, "Bumpa?" and then asked it again as he was sitting near us. So I told him that he was reminiscent of my father who had recently passed and so my daughter was seeing the similarities and trying to figure out if he was The Real Bumpa, ie{which I didn't say aloud}, "black socks: check; kooky hat: check; brilliant white sneakers: check; gregarious to total strangers: check; seems to enjoy my company: check; but--face and voice: not so much." He laughed and said, "Well, it sounds like your dad was a man with style."

We sort of each went back to our meals, not long after which Bambina and I left. As I was leaving, I picked her up to carry her and took one last look back at our friendly neighbor, just to say a final goodbye. He looked up, smiled at me, and shamelessly stuffed about 12 sugar packets into his pockets.

No More Calls! We Have a Winner!

Thank you, Dad, for sending the only sign you knew I'd be open to seeing and believing: petty larceny of condiments by a kooky wee man.

1 comment:

S said...

Oh, what a lift...the sugar packets, reminiscent of my grandfather. One of my favorite memories is of being a smallish child at McDonald's with Nana and Grandpa while he hands Nana ketchup packets. I can't get his gruff voice out of my head, "Put 'em in your purse, Honor!"