My Dad would've celebrated his 80th birthday last week. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about him. I've been feeling guilty because I can't remember the exact date of his birthday. I couldn't bring myself to ask Mom...it's something I should never forget. And I have. Hanging on to the too few memories and it hurts that even one little piece went missing. I was nine years old when Dad died from a heart attack at the age of 44.
Little things will trigger memories of him. Yesterday it was hearing the coos of a pair of mourning doves. I always think of Dad when I hear mourning doves. I'll imagine that it's his voice and he's reminding me that he's not too far away. Who knows? Maybe it is him. And maybe it's just the little girl inside needing to be comforted. She's never very far from the surface.
One of my most vivid memories of Dad is from church on Sunday mornings. Being the youngest of five, I think it was his job to keep me occupied and quiet during the Sunday morning sermons in our little Methodist church. I would sit in his lap and he would hold my hand in his big, tanned, calloused farmer hands. Ever so gently with his fingernail, he would push the cuticles back on each of my small fingernails. I can picture this so clearly. We always sat in the pews on the north side of church. Often the windows would be open. There were trees outside the windows and the mourning doves would be coo-coo-cooing outside. If all the other memories slowly disappear, this memory of touching hands and mourning dove songs will never be forgotten.