He wanted to tell him how much he loved him but his father was gone now. Not gone meaning dead, just gone driven down the road, dust rising in the air. His father was more distant these recent days and he wasn’t sure why. He knew there were issues with his dad’s third wife, because she liked to air her dirty laundry on Facebook and was always badmouthing his dad on there. He didn’t look most days.
He’d invited his dad over for a barbecue and some horseshoes in the pit in the backyard. His dad played in less tournaments these days but he still liked to throw. They’d played together for awhile as the burgers cooked and then sat down on the patio to eat, with some store-bought potato salad and the burgers. They ate together amiably, both going back for seconds. He wanted to tell his dad about some problems he was having with a fellow employee at work but he held back. No point bringing down what was feeling like a nice day, a good Father’s day get-together. He felt he owed his dad that.
He looked across the old metal table at his dad and smiled at a bit of ketchup caught on his dad’s chin. His dad had aged well, he thought, so glad for those good genes.
“Did you see that atrocity on Gene’s lawn?” his dad said.
“You mean that fake wishing well?” he said.
“That and a whole lot more. His wife is watching too many home improvement shows, if you ask me. God knows why he puts up with it.”
He didn’t respond right away. His father certainly put up with a lot too…marrying a younger woman the third time around, who was never happy with the way things were. She nagged on his father something fierce, he thought. We seem to be most critical in others what we don’t like about ourselves he’d read somewhere. That was his father in a nutshell.
“Well at least Gene keeps his lawn mowed,” he said. “My neighbor kitty corner over there wouldn’t know a lawn mower if it reached out and bit him. And the weeds are sowing their seeds upon the rest of us…thanks to him.”
“You should sneak mow it for him,” his dad said. “Do it on a day when he’s gone for the day. You must know his schedule enough to figure it out.”
“Why would I do that?”
“Because you don’t know what’s going on with him,” his dad said. “Could be something’s wrong, in his family or with him. We don’t know these things. Worst case scenario, he’s gong through something. Best case, you did a good deed. And just maybe shamed him into doing it himself next time. But my guess is that there’s something off. Something wrong.”
“He’s lost some weight lately,” he said. “I never really thought about it that way. We don’t really talk.”
“He might not even tell you even if you did talk, so I wouldn’t worry about it. Just mow it. You’ll be glad that you did.”
“You’re right, dad,” he said. “I’ll mow it on Tuesday when he’s always gone all day.”
His father looked at him. “That’s my boy,” he said.
His father left soon after that. He hugged him and his dad patted him on the back. Now he wished that he had said I love you. But his father knew. He knew that he knew. Next time, he would just say it.
Happy Father’s day Dad. I love you.
(for my dad-who knows I love him)