Karen, my friendly neighborhood therapist, says that I should try to focus on the good memories I have of my dad because when the bulk of this deity-forsaken grieving has passed, I want to be left with the good stuff.
This isn't an easy task, digging up memories that don't have a dash (or a whole bucketful) of bitterness to them. I guess anyone who's been there knows that bitterness is mostly what comes of loving and addict-- even if he was a really funny addict. Last night, though, when I was battling my monkey brain once again, this is what I remembered:
My dad introduced me to sushi when I was thirteen. I knew just enough about it to be thoroughly horrified when he took me through the back door of a divey sushi spot in Sacramento. It would be a cold day in Kalamazoo before I'd ever eat raw fish, I thought to myself. Turns out there are many many cold days in Kalamazoo, and I have eaten a polar bear's share of the stuff (how I'm going to miss it when we move to The Woods! But that's another post).
The last time my dad came to visit, the last time I saw him, R and I took him out to our favorite sushi restaurant, Kai's. Just like India Palace, I've been going to Kai's since Sweet Potato was itty bitty, and all she did was squish the sticky rice from her California roll between her fingers. I went, I ordered, I ate, I paid the check. I never made conversation with the family-owners because I'm kind of a freak that way.
My dad is there for two minutes, and he's chatting up everyone in the room. It's hard not to see him for one thing. The restaurant is small; there are only about twelve tables, and my dad is huge-- over six feet, blond, and 300 pounds. We're sitting in the middle of the room, and my dad's head towers above everything.
We're there ten minutes, and this little old lady walks in the door with her family. She's about four feet tall and weighs as much as my right arm. Her black hair is in a bun, and she's wearing a long coat. She's toddling past our table, when my dad scoops her up in his giant reach and says in this booming voice, "Don't I know you?" He does not know her. "I do. I do. I know you."
The woman smiles big and pats him on the arm.
"I think we met at that place that time," he says. "Our friend introduced us."
If this woman knows he's full of bologna, she doesn't let on. I'm not sure that she speaks English, though, either. She just keeps smiling and patting. Dad invites her to sit and have some saki with us. He holds up the little ceramic bottle and waves it at her. She smiles some more, shakes her head, and finally scoots past him.
When our waitress comes back with our sushi rolls, Dad says, "You know that woman over there?" pointing at the tiny woman across the room, "She's my mom."
"That woman?" The waitress asks, nodding toward the tiny woman because her hands are full. The waitress is young, probably in her early twenties.
"Yep, yep, that's my mom," he says, so confidently.
"That's my grandma," the waitress says with an arched eyebrow.
"Your grandma is my mom?" my dad asks, with mock shock.
The waitress's hands are empty now, and she puts them on her hips while she squints at my dad with her head cocked. "I didn't know Grandma had any round-eyed children," she says, and then laughs as she's walking away.
We're laughing, too, and my dad is bent over laughing, and everyone in the restaurant is looking at our table as if he's a little bit crazy, and it's okay because he is.