Unexpected gifts

In trying to keep up on my regular postings, I have to catch up on a few posts that have been pushed aside due to working, jetsetting, mojito drinking and general laziness/narcolepsy.  And, since I posted a light and somewhat entertaining piece yesterday about wanting to screw Becks senseless (which was the point of that story) and my expert opinion on the creation of the soft taco, I’m going with a serious post today and then on Tuesday I will be ready to post about something petty or outrageous like midgets or miniature ponies or how Parisian men creep me out.  You know, things I find normal to bring up in conversation.  So, on to the serious.

I received a gift last week when I arrived home from Montenegro from my cousin Chad, someone I haven’t seen in at least twenty years, maybe more.  I had been expecting his gift for a few weeks and it was the source of some anxiety and when I arrived home from my flight from Podgorica, it was waiting for me on the hutch in the living room, addressed to me, looking plain and simple and of the manilla envelope variety.  Seemed harmless from the outside, but I already knew what was in the package.

Chad had sent me home videos of my father from 1966-1978, set to music, something I could keep.  Something tangible that won’t fade or get lost or leave or change.  Something no one can take from me and something I can put on when I want to see my father.  Granted, this is my dad before I knew him, before he knew me, but we’re from the same tree and sometimes, I just really miss his smile.

Chad’s isn’t the first video of my father I’ve received.  I have one that my stepmother’s best friend sent me the year my father died.  I’ve listened to it twice and then I hid it, primarily because as nice as that video was, I watched it during a time where downing a bottle of wine and smashing a glass against the wall out of desperation was  pretty standard.  I’ve watched Chad’s video now twice and now it’s in my collection of the important things I have left that I can touch and flip through–letters and birthday cards and chaotic and slanted handwriting, pictures I never thought to take more of and gifts I managed not to lose in my younger years.  Oversized teeshirts and sports memorabilia and stories I’ve written down because I’m afraid I will forget or crack my skull and get amnesia.  The collection is small and I don’t look through it too often, but with the new video, it’s more robust. 

The video, set to perfect music that captures a time and an era I was never a part of, is, well, perfect.  It captures all the things I miss the most about the person sometimes I still need the most.  It is full of my father smiling and acting like a jackass for the camera, dancing and waving his hands about like he’s in jazz class.  It catches him harassing his siblings and his crazy hair in the 70s, the brushed out curls that result in a trendy, white boy afro, something I’m all too familiar with.  It shows him laughing hard and wearing fantastic plaid pants and shirts he either forgot to button all the way or he was trying to make some sort of sexy statement. 

I’m mid-way between his birthday and Father’s Day (Hallmark can fuck themselves, in case anyone cares) and so this gift my cousin gave me was more than I ever could have asked for.  The video made me sick to my stomach with sadness and happiness and longing for another chance just to say goodbye or just one more hug.  I cried briefly but then smiled in knowing that Chad gave me a chance to again to do something I’m technically never going to do again, see my father.  I wish I had words to express what that has done for me. 

But I don’t have words, and so I just watched the video again and then I listened to the song Vincent, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dipFMJckZOM) and I smiled, because I got to see my father again and that is all I could really ask for.