“Did I tell you that Pop came out of the bathroom with his dick on the wrong side of his zipper this morning?” Yup, on the day of our mother’s funeral that’s how my sister greeted me on the phone. And she didn’t wait for a response, Liz just kept going with “just saying, between mom’s passing and daddy’s Alzheimer’s I have seen some shit! The things he forgets, I can’t make this stuff up. You know, if we weren’t twins, I bet he still would have confused us growing up… Maybe that’s why mom was so adamant about us always wearing the same thing… It’s going to be so much harder with her gone… But back to Mr FlipFlop over here-”
“Liz”, I said in a tone that was much less assertive than what I had intended.
“What? The man doesn’t even know that I’m talking about him ok. And between you and me, he doesn’t really have much to be embarrassed about.”
“I’m not saying, but I’m saying, ok?”
“Liz”, my voice deepened.
“Like, I don’t even have one, but now I have penis envy. I mean, if it wasn’t Daaddd-”
“PLEASE, don’t finish that”
“Ok Mary, ok. You’re no fun. Are you on the road yet?”
I turn the car on, hoping that she hears it, and try to rush her off of the phone with a “just left”. Either purposely ignoring the response or not caring about it she says “hey, you remember that water fight that we got into with Daddy? Mom was PISSED”
“You remember. I spilled a cup of ice water in dad’s lap, by mistake. He threw a cup of water on you, on purpose.”
“I got the Super-Soaker blah-thousand whatever-it-was and you grabbed our cups and dunked them into the fishtank. We ran around the house all afternoon, throwing water on each other. Basically turning the whole house into an indoor Slip N Slide”
“Liz” …Yes, I do remember this story. It’s not about that. She knows that I remember it. This is one of those go-to stories that we revisit whenever one of us is feeling overwhelmed and/or is noticeably anxious. Our “we don’t have to talk about ‘it’, let’s just talk” talks. Each time we do the story seems to get a little longer. And today, as much as I may need to, I don’t want to hear it.
She continues with “Mom stepped into the door, and found herself standing in a puddle while Daddy had both of us by the collar, spraying us with the house from the kitchen sink. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone scream so loudly.”
“Liz” I said, “I’m here!” That is what sisters are for I guess. If we had more time on the phone she likely would have transitioned into that story where Mom snapped on Uncle John at Christmas dinner. All that bitching just for him calling us “my girls.” She was so dramatic. I hate to say it but, I’m almost glad that she’s gone.
I was so wrapped up in trying to avoid listening to Liz’s story that I must’ve zoned out and went into autopilot during the ride home. I don’t remember any of it. I love/hate when that happens. And oddly enough, as I slip out of our bunk bed and into the hallway, that is exactly what I am feeling.
I can’t remember a single step that I took between my door and his but here I stand, in front of my parent’s, well Dad’s bedroom.
“Daddy? I need a hug. Can I come in? I. I can’t sleep.” I said the words, yes. They were louder than a whisper, in an almost normal tone and volume. But even if his door had been opened when I said it I don’t think those words were loud enough to carry themselves to his bed, let alone wake him. I crack open his door and once again, on my tippytoes, as if by muscle memory, my body moves while my brain remains still. By the time that I realize what is going on it’s too late, I’m already in bed with him.
He wraps his arms around me, pulls me in close, hugs me tightly, kisses my forehead, and relaxes. As his grip loosens I start to come back to my senses. I peel my forehead away from his lips and wrench my head backwards so that I can look at his face.
The face of my father. The face of someone who I thought I knew. The face that feels more and more foreign the longer I look at it. The face which held so many secrets. The face of a familiar stranger. The face with which I share so many memories. The face that I, like so many times before, lend a kiss.
“Mary?” He questioned.
Being damned with my ‘mother’s good looks’ means that even though that witch is gone, Liz and I will still have to see her every day. However as the first born, by well over 11 minutes, I was ‘blessed’ with her name. So in this moment, after burying her this morning, Dad’s dementia letting it slip that “Uncle John” is our biological father this afternoon, and having to stay strong during Liz’s breakdown this evening, I didn’t have it in me to give a wordy response. I simply whispered “yes Daddy, it’s me”, and moved in for another kiss.
Hime, thank you for letting me use this picture for this post!
But, this is not the kind of kiss that a daughter gives to her father. It’s not the kind of kiss that a woman gives to her lover. This is new, or should I say “new-ish”. If anything, I’d liken it to that of my first kiss with a boy. Only, with a man.
The only man who has ever really loved me for me. The only man who I’ve truly ever loved. The only man who I truly ever felt belonged to me, and I to him. My man. The only man who I would ever allow to hug me like my Dad, and fuck me like my Daddy.
When u returned to our room, Liz looked like she hadn’t moved a muscle. I would swear on a stack of bibles that she had slept through the night if I hadn’t later woken to her voice in the hallway saying “Daddy, I need a hug”.