Saturday mornings are for drinking coffee, being up in time for breakfast, and trips to the farmers market or to Trader Joe’s, Aldi, or Wegman’s if you live in upstate NY and choose not to brave the farmers market in the dead of winter. Saturdays are also for purchasing house plants to bring back to my apartment where they will likely meet their death. The market has a variety of plant vendors. There are succulents, which are my favorite because they can't be killed easily, there are annuals that can be planted in the garden, herbs, and bouquets of flowers.
“This looks like a hearty succulent”, I said to my friend Ellen, picking up what was labelled as a chic and hen. It was in a plastic pot.
“Are you sure you don’t want this, Anna? It is impossible to kill”, she stated, picking up a cactus in an expertly painted piece of pottery.
“I like the pottery piece this cactus is planted in”, I marveled.
“The cactus is a good choice”.
“I will take the cactus”. I forked $10.00 over to the vendor.
“Thank you. Have a great day”, She said.
We ambled past stalls viewing wares of the various vendors. There was a vendor with clothing. I stopped. There was a traditional navy-blue New York Yankees hat. “My Dad would always wear a Yankees cap like this whenever he was in the sun, gardening, or walking in the sun on our family vacations”. My Dad had been a Yankees fan, along with my grandfather, so I too was a Yankees fan. I tried the hat on, over my braided shoulder length dark hair. “What do you think?”, I asked Ellen. She had Buffalo Bills hat over her long blond locks.
“It looks good on you. How does this one look on me?”
“It is cute on you”, I assured her. We both purchased our respective team caps and continued on.
“It is so weird”, I said. “My Dad has been gone two years now, but Saturdays just feel wrong without meeting him for breakfast and coffee chat, before our market outings". No matter how much time has passed, I still just want to sit across from Dad with our standard eggs and toast, me with bacon and rye toast, him with sausage and raisin toast. For the longest time, it was Dad and I. Then when my sister moved back from Boston she joined. On weekends that my other sister and her husband would visit with the kids, it would be the whole lot of us. It was nice to just sit and chat about the sports games and shows we had watched, or what books we were reading. Dad also had a wealth of stories about our grandparents, and when he was young, and he could tell a story, as well as tell a really cheesy but good Dad joke. I see a Yankees hat and want to buy it and stash it away to give him as a birthday gift. Ellen had lost both her parents before 50. She was a few years older than me. In my early 40’s, I hadn’t been ready to say goodbye to Dad. We still had Christmas’s to spend together, birthdays to celebrate, another Yankees game to attend together. Him taking my sisters and I to a Yankees game one summer in my 20’s will always be one of the best days of my life, though I am sure there are more “best” days to come. The "best days" would be days with my niece and nephew, there would be sports to watch, museums, and zoos to visit together. I could just pick up were Dad left off, and be the dispenser of treats, and the reader of stories.
“I know. They say the second year is the hardest. The pain of losing a parent never goes away, the pain just lessens over time”.
“Do you want to go to the cemetery after we grab a bite here and visit your Dad?”. When Dad first passed, I went to the cemetery as often as I could. I have come to realize though that Dad visits me too. He visits me on the breeze that blows in my window on a warm night, he visits me when I am reading to my nephew. He finds ways to let me know he is with me. I still go to the cemetery, just not as often.
“Yes. I’d love that.”
We stopped at the taco stall and grabbed breakfast tacos. Breakfast tacos are no different than tacos that you eat for lunch or dinner. They are just tacos eaten for breakfast. There is not really a bad time for a taco, in my opinion and the tacos from the stall at the market are authentic, soft tacos made in a tortilla, with radish in them. I love nice warm tacos for breakfast and any other meal really.
“Do you mind if we stop and grab some flowers. I want to bring some to Dad.”
“No. We can stop at the vendor on the way to the car.” We finished our tacos. I found a nice bouquet of fragrant spring colored blooms. I also found a jade plant for myself, and bought myself a bouquet of flowers to place in a vase on my kitchen table. It was a nice day for a visit to the cemetery. I liked visits to the cemetery on sunny blue sky days. The visit seemed less somber on nice weather days. The cemetery where Dad was buried was about 20 minutes from the market. When we got there, and I approached his grave, I noticed a cardinal walking around his resting place. Whenever a cardinal is in the yard or somewhere nearby, I take it as a message from a loved one who is no longer with us. I looked up at the sky, taking in the big white fluffy clouds, the sun on my face.
“Hi Dad. I love you”, I said to the sky. The cardinal hopped up on the smooth marble gravestone. It was nice to know that even though Dad couldn’t be present for our regular Saturday breakfast, he was still present. I placed the flowers at his plot, touched the gravestone, feeling a sense of calm wash over me, and headed back to the car, ready to face the rest of the day, the sharp pain of missing Dad a little less.