Today marks six years since my dad died. I love this picture of him so much — fresh-faced and kind of looking like Elvis. I think he’s at the University of Kansas here, which he attended coming straight from Ethiopia at the age of 16. This still strikes me as super random. Also, those pants are amazing.
It took me a long time before I could remember my dad without only remembering the horrible last week of his life. I don’t know how common this is in other people’s experiences, but for many years, I would get very emotional thinking about him and just feel so sad. It’s only in the last year or two that some of that other stuff has started to filter back in, and now I would say it’s about 90% funny/annoying old memories, and 10% terrible hospital ones. I think that’s a pretty good ratio.
Like most people, I inherited a lot of traits from my dad, and also consciously chose not to inherit many. We both hate full parking lots and large crowds of people (most of my curmudgeonly side is directly linked to my dad, which I kind of love). We both make big decisions quickly, without a lot of fuss, and rarely regret them. We both love libraries so much that it’s hard for me to accurately express. I grew up going to the library — every single Saturday, almost without exception, from the age of three or four until I left for university (and then in the summers when I would come home), my dad and I would first hit up the library, then go out for lunch. Lunch was usually at the Great Canadian Bagel Company, where I would always, without fail, order a tuna sandwich on an “everything” bagel, mayo, no mustard. I always wanted to tell the cashier, “The usual!” but was too shy. Sometimes we would also run other errands, like on the twice-yearly occasions when he needed new shirts for work. We would go to some department store, he would ask me to pick out five or six shirts, not try anything on, and then buy them. The whole process took roughly 15 minutes. No joke, this is basically how I picked out my wedding dress, though I did (grudgingly) try it on first.
I no longer go to the library every Saturday, but I do go once a week or so. I think of my dad each time I walk into one, and I think I always will. This doesn’t make me sad at all, but rather the exact opposite. I can’t eat tuna salad anymore, due to a fin fish allergy that merits its own post of OH GOD WHY, and I live over a thousand miles from where I grew up. But I have a few photos, and I have this thick black hair, and I have the library.