- Harry Jensen
April 20, 2020
My girlfriend ran up to me wearing my dead, dusty Daddy DoNothin’s old slippers today.
“Maybe I just wear the slippers now,” I said.
It is 4/20 of 2020 as I write this, but, in an hour, it will be the next day. Where will yesterday have gone when it is tomorrow? (Today, as I edit this.) Will it continue to exist as something that has been, or will it fade into oblivion with the rest of the so-called past? I don’t have the answers, but these are fun questions to ask yourself and others late at night — feel free to phone a friend, or leave your cousin a voicemail.
Yesterday morning, I Zoomed with my brother, my cousin, her mother, my mother, and their mother, my dear Granny. Because of the eight-hour time difference between Oregon and England, we were at different points in our day; my mother poured her wind-down wine and I sipped my up-and-at-‘em coffee.
It was a lively, hearty gathering during these quarantined times, and very popular evidently. While we caught up, George insisted on poking his head into Granny’s camera and saying hello, but Granny wheeled him away and told him to be quiet. I would have preferred that George stay and chat, though I suppose it’s pretty easy for me to get all up on my high horse and tell my Granny how to raise her parrot.
Our call commemorated the 22nd anniversary of my grandfather Desmond’s death, father of three and husband of one. He died before my first birthday, far beyond the reach of memory. It would be years before I could grasp that he really was at one point alive.
I do not remember if I was much comfort to my mother when he passed, but I doubt it. Around that time, when her grandparents died mere days apart from one another, I threw up on her in an airplane. It was the least I could have done….
Before we Zoomed out and parted ways — for breakfast and for dinner — my girlfriend came into the frame to be met by my kin. “Hello, Cecilia,” said my mother. “It’s our “DDD” — that’s Dead Dad Day,” she said and raised her wine glass.
January 5th is my Dead Dad Day, my Deathsgiving, my little cherry on top of the holiday season sundae. My father became paralyzed before Thanksgiving of 2016, and his situation degraded until 45 days after he lost sense in his legs, he died. Every year, it’s like his ashes find a way to show up in the turkey gravy, the cranberry sauce, and the champagne. Deathsgiving is different.
I, like my mother, treat the seasonal return of my dead dad day as a celebration. The day of my father’s death has been evolving into a time to recollect and laugh rather than mourn and stare into the dread-bucket of mortality; I have even caught myself looking forward to it, like a birthday or a flu shot.
I have found that many see it in a similar light. It makes sense now, though I did not imagine this would be the case when my Dad was still sick, before I had a Deathsgiving burned into my own calendar. But he actually feels more alive on the revisitation of his death day, funnily enough. If everyone is thinking about him at the same time, it’s like he’s not even gone.
“My Dad’s not dead, he’s just in the other room… forever.”
When Deathsgiving rolled around this year, no one in my family remembered besides me, even my brother. I called him up on January 5th and we talked about our father for twenty minutes, and then we said our goodbyes — only days later did he realize that I called had on the anniversary.
At first, I was irritated that my brother had not put the puzzle together by connecting the time of year with my sudden outpouring of odes to our disintegrated daddy. But then I was touched, and I was truly grateful that I can call my brother up, out of the blue, and we can reminisce about life with Dad for a while, no questions asked, no reason needed to celebrate.
(One could ask a question, of course, like, “say, didn’t that fella who done raised us die around this time of year, or am I plain old nuts?” Just sayin’, bro…. )