Tinktinktinktinktinktink, went the sound of my son Buddy making his chocolate milk, just the way Grandpop had always done for him. The conversations all stopped.
“That’s just what Dad used to do,” said my mother-in-law, after a moment. “It drove me nuts.”
“All our glasses have ding marks at the bottom,” laughed my brother-in-law.
We were at my wife’s parents’ home, the day of my father-in-law’s funeral. He had been ill for a while, and we all had the unexpressed feeling that the end was coming, but that hadn’t made the event any easier.
Buddy’s clarifying moment occurred during the chaos of family and service that follows the passing of a loved one, just like the calm in the center of a storm. It was a brief respite that provided for the first of the many remembrances we are to realize.
And the moment was needed. The avalanche of well-meaning relatives, cheese platters, old photos, hams, crying, and paperwork kept everyone too busy to reflect.
The time for that has worked itself to me now.
While we will grieve for a long time to come, his gifts will live with us, in different ways, for all of our lives. I see much of his character and personality in my wife. She has his penchant for saving things, his eye for details, and his insistence on negotiating car prices. Her fondness for scrapple sandwiches on white bread (with, and only with, ketchup) I also ascribe to him. Some of him has become part of my children–I have always harbored suspicion that they liked Grandpop’s pancakes better.
We will recall many lessons in the future. Fathers’ Day can cause us (especially fathers) to do that. In the meantime, my little ones are all, strangely, hungry for pancakes. I hope they eventually like mine as much as they did his.