My father died when I was 28 years old.
Yesterday, in a low moment, I drew myself away to the single-most comforting moment in my life. We all have those don’t we? That single memory that brings us so much comfort that we retreat to it in times of distress.
I was never, ever a morning person. I would lay awake at night dreaming of things to come. As a child and teenager, there is so much yet to do. So many things yet unknown. At that point we are literally at the beginning of a clean slate.
So, when morning came, I could never wake up when I was supposed to. My father would come to my room and gently tell me it was time to get up. Which I would promptly ignore. He would repeat that activity a few times with equal patience.
Three seemed to be the magic number. At that point I knew I was pushing my luck even with my sweet father. The next move I would make after dragging myself reluctantly from my warm cozy bed, would be to walk straight into the kitchen and crawl up on his lap. Then I would lay my head on his shoulder.
This was an easy task since my bedroom door opened right into the kitchen. My father always sat at the kitchen table drinking his coffee and watching the television, which was strategically placed to be seen in both the kitchen and living room.
He was a farmer and would always watch the morning farm report, then the morning news. My mother would be hustling around getting ready herself. She was a teacher and my ride to school.
The memory I had yesterday, which was so vivid I could actually feel it physically, was the feel of his overall strap buckle against my cheek. That memory must have come as a teenager. Any younger and my cheek would not have reached that far up. It wasn’t comfortable, but I would have let that buckle push into my cheek forever just to be able to sit on his lap.
He would hold me for as long as possible. My mom would issue dire warnings as I lay there in the comfort of my father’s lap. Warnings that I better get up and get ready for school. Warnings that she would leave me. Warnings that the apocalypse would come if I did not obey her.
And yet, I would sit there with my cheek against that buckle. Nothing could move me until my father would finally sit me back up, look me in the face and tell me it was time to go get ready for school.
I would obey him, always, even if it was with reluctance. I never wanted to leave his lap. It’s true that this process continued from the time I was a small child until I was well into my teens. I knew I was too big to be sitting on my father’s lap, but it didn’t matter.
He would have to shift from time to time, from the weight of my body, to regain circulation in his legs, but I still didn’t care. I was on my daddy’s lap, my greatest point of comfort.
My father accepted me with unconditional ardent patience my entire life. He left my life way too soon.
As an adult, now a much older adult, when I am in need of extreme comfort, that picture of me on my father’s lap just comes to me. Yesterday, I felt his buckle on my cheek and I rested there.