Here’s the script and how it usually plays out. I open the weathered front door of my parent’s yellow Cape Cod style house and stumble into the kitchen groggily. Mumbling under my breath, wincing at every loud noise I make, I attempt to create a black gold with a caffeine level that would cause most humans to experience a gran mal seizure at worse and the shits at best. I call it first coffee. Scientifically, if you’re a frequent dependent of caffeine, you could experience seizures as a withdraw symptom. I don’t risk the chances and keep myself healthily and happily caffeinated.
Water in, the bean grinder gets to spinning, and then the magical beep sounds at the pressing of the start button. I experience synesthesia, a symphony of senses triggered by the water sputtering and the dense and colorful scents rising, all before the second magical beep signaling completion.
I hear the open and close of the bedroom door and heavy feet dragging across the floor coming nearer. “Did you make coffee?” Depending on how much or how little sleep I’ve gotten or what mood I’m in, I will either not respond at all, grunt, or whisper, “Shh.” All three are well received by the man with heavy feet as he takes a seat at the kitchen island bar stool.
Most times I’ll pour two cups. Sometimes just one, usually after this man references the poor state of his stomach. I told you, the shits at best, and I meant it. I have countless humans’ digestive history vouching and joking about this.
Perhaps because I can seldom utter intelligibly before coffee that my dad, heavy feet man, across the counter from me sees it as a prime opportunity to speak endlessly without interruption. Many times I’ve looked him dead in the eye and said, “Dad, please stop talking.” Some of you may be surprised. But some of you are nodding your head getting it. Raise your hand if you get it.
Oh yeah, I can’t see your opinion to deter my frankness or your raised hand to support it. Blogging for the win again.
Sometimes I stop him mid-sentence, because in a steady fire hydrant stream of words you have to insert forcefully wherever you need to. I stop him partly because I don’t want to have him air his stories to a semi-glazed empty space, rather than a fully comprehending and responding brain and attentive ears.
In occasions like this, we sit in simple silence. He doesn’t mind that either—momentarily. Then as if attempting to start a car, my father’s put-put down memory lane begins again. As the coffee kicks in and the sleepiness wears thin, I begin to comprehend more and more of what he’s saying and eventually climb in as his passenger after he’s got the engine up to a roar. The story and road is of his choosing, and after a while more, and a second coffee pour, I actually start responding, even to the point of inquisition. I want all the information, for him to paint the details of the scenery of whatever memory we’re traveling so I can see it clearly.
Suddenly I’m transported in the journey. I’m right there with him, removed miles and years away from the tiny kitchen we sit in. Some stories have gotten him so animated that his booming voice bounces through the halls of the walls he built, eliciting a yell a fraction of its volume from one of the bedrooms–“Be quiet!” Afterall, he’s lost in another age, forgetting he’s thundering and flailing present day at five in the morning.
For what I’ve come to understand, partly through this heavy-footed, gigantic man, is that every human is a library. Each life is a library, not limited to mere genres of personality and hobbies, or resources of their intellect or experience of learning, but storehouses of vivid memories, myriads of moments compiling the substance of their world. In sharing the libraries of our lives with others we leave our legacy. These are my dad’s stories. Thank you, Dad, for sharing them with me. You’re sixty-four today, and this is the first page of your memories written by me. Although the word “shit” is in the first paragraph, I hope you will be proud of it.