A few days into my social media sabbatical and it so happens to be the same time of the annual pilgrimage to the place with the best cheese curds and the worst weather, AirVenture as it is called by some, Oshkosh by others. Taking care of some chores around the house before another five days of work take me back into the skies, I’m listening to Manchester Orchestra’s set list on repeat from a concert enjoyed just a few days ago. Headphones in, ear protection over those, nothing but the onslaught of rhythmic, primal sounding drums and guitars to distract me from an internal struggle. It’s EAA week and I willingly stayed home, resisting the urge to peer into the holy land through the magic rectangle I’m typing this very thought into.
A man much wiser than I shared with me why Interstellar was one of his favorite movies. Peering into the cinematography, listening intently to the score, my mind trying to wrap around what it is about this movie that invigorates my soul and stimulates my brain. Only after hearing what he saw beyond the screen, I found the missing pieces to the puzzle in my mind.
Related, I’m hearing the lyrics repeated. “What if I’ve been trying to get to where I’ve always been? Simple math, believe me, all is brilliant.” For some reason the words, the chords, the life in the sounds echoing in my mind is bringing me to tears. I’m standing here mowing my lawn crying to a song and I have no idea why. I can’t even pass off the old allergy excuse because this is a lot. It appears in my advancing age I’m becoming that which I never knew existed. Happy tears flowing like the Niagara River down the similarly named falls. Why?
Then a door opens. It’s Oakli, dressed in her princess pajamas. Her lips are moving but with two layers of passive and one layer of active noise reduction I can’t hear a thing. Breaking the seal, lifting my hands off the mower, I hear that angelic voice. “Dad, when you’re done I’m going to snuggle you and we can watch your show to bed, okay?”
“Yes sweetie, I’d be honored.”
There’s no handkerchief big enough to stop these levees under my eyes from spilling over. These allergies are the worst.
I think I’ve seen my father cry twice. Once when we said our goodbyes before his soul and body parted ways. The other time I can’t remember. Possibly at the sight of one of his grandchildren for the first time, my sister’s wedding…something certainly most could justify. But I’m certain I never saw him tear up working on the yard.
Regardless of the physical evidence not being brought to court, I know for sure he did. A tall intimidating man with a voice that could project beyond what could be seen and a face that carried his words even further than the ears could hear, a teddy bear he was hidden deep beneath that skunk tattoo on his left forearm. A man with the pain tolerance that baffled dentists, doctors, and divorce lawyers, those who knew him like I did knew what a softy he truly was.
My feeble mind holds on to some of the most interesting memories. HOT PARDS CCJMD, but the O is a Q. A tilted Yahtzee cup with the dice half spilled out on the carpet on a partly cloudy afternoon. EMB-120 structural weight limitations. Today, I want this memory to take those places. An orange sunset glowing the warm summer skies above. Tall grass meeting its demise to my father’s old electric mower. The sweetest little princess relinquishing command of the remote control for the first time in her life.
A three year old once again teaching me what love is.
(for the full effect, read this while playing the song “I love you” by two blinks, i love you)