He tousled my hair. I was 8 years old then. I looked up to a broad smile and caring eyes. Nothing was said. All I saw was the smile and kindness spread cross his face.
His uniform was always starch with ribbons across his chest. There was an authority in his gait, a deliberation at every step. It was a measured gait of contemplation. I never knew what he was thinking but when he picked his eyes up from the reams of tangled thoughts and cast them towards me, the ends of his mouth swept wider and the eyes narrowed into pure love.
He tousled my hair when I was 9 years old on my birthday, holding a ribbon-bound white box for a birthday present. It was a helicopter that he had bought from some far away land. His eyes watched me with delight as I opened the box carefully, to peer inside it. The smile grew to a laugh when I held the toy, a scream must have emanated, I do not recall. Yes he was all there, present at every moment of my delight.
He tousled my hair and his large hands cupped my face. Tears were rolling down my face in streams, I remember, and the toothache had paralyzed me into sobbing fits. I don’t remember the dentist visit or much else, except the calm and comfort of that warmth on my cheeks. I was a 10 years old gangly awkward child of man then.
He never tousled my hair again. His fingers never brushed the tears off my face again.
Now many years later, that I am well passed his age, he was on my tenth birthday, I miss him still.
I remember that age of innocence and of deep love.
It was great while it lasted. I didn’t know then, what I know now. Time’s arrow has a prick to it and points in the direction where memories grow. He was and always will be my hero.
Happy Father’s Day Dad! I know you are up there smiling down at me as you always have for all these years.