When we sat down at a table together, for better or worse, we attended the ritual of being family, and somehow this made it so.
Mostly I think of dimly lit Italian restaurants, the smell of garlic hanging like a spirit in the air, and dad ordering Chianti in a weird accent, insisting despite the confusion of the wait staff, that he was pronouncing it authentically.
My father is my Jacob Marley. He's the face I see in my doorknocker and the voice I hear in my head, wailing that no space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity misused!*.
My memory is of apple trees which hung like willows under the weight of their rich harvest and a horde of bees who relentlessly kamikaze'd our biscuits and apple butter. The Pièce de résistance of the whole affair, though, were these faces.
I have a broken relationship with food; I love and hate it, by turns. I've watched my father waste away because he consumed the wrong food for the wrong reasons. He ate to soothe his restlessness, to ease the pain of life and to punctuate every high. His consumption was like bringing food to the altar of a false and unsatisfiable god. Despite how it abused his life, my father kept returning to that altar, and he brought me there, too, as a little child. I have fought every day since then to unlearn what I learned at it's feet.
My father is surrounded by machines. In a tone that is equal parts self-pitying and self-depricating he says "I look like Frankenstein with all these wires coming out of me". It's true, but I don't remark on it. It seems to offend him in the way that a scar might offend a person who makes their living from their looks.