Memories of Dad are a gift. A blessing. I pause life – the social-media scanning, the conversations around me, the house cleaning & writing, Once Upon A Time (which is my latest obsession), the errands – and I soak up the gift. The wispy grace.
There are a handful of people who have been my open-door to grace. I can pick up the phone to reach them… or write an email… or walk to the bedroom or home office.
But not Dad. Dad is a special gift of grace. One that can be reopened, but only with keys that come along as surprises. I don’t know where they are hidden. I don’t know how to find them.
They find me.
Like today. In Door County. Where the wifi is spotty in our third-floor suite overlooking Lake Michigan. Where the shops are full of miniature sailboats, and handcrafted walking canes, and lighthouse paintings.
Where there is cheese curd for sale at the Piggly Wiggly a few blocks away. Where a quaint bookstore or coffee shop or park bench calls to me – like it would have called to him.
He is with me.
And in these moments, I start to ask him what he thinks – of the things I’ve done since he left. The conversion. The falling in love with the Sacramental life. The books I’ve read and the book I’ve written.
My kids. Grown and having kids of their own.
Before I can ask him, I sense his smile. His gentle pat. The wordless exchange that says he is pleased – not so much with what I’ve done, but with what grace has done with me and to me and for me.
The cheese curd is good – even if it is orange – I think. A Wisconsin boy would laugh at that. Especially one who was familiar with cheese factories, where cheese curd was always white.
The book I bought at the bookstore today was one he wouldn’t have purchased. The Protestant minister wouldn’t gravitate to a Pope Francis book. But it’s on humility, and Dad would have understood that. They – the Pope and Dad – are more alike than my Protestant family might think – more than even Dad might have realized.
Wisconsin and Argentina can both produce humble men. Men who’ve marked me by their lives. And words. And love that lingers.
Tonight, we’ll get ice cream even though the weather’s cold for July – perhaps even for Door County, Wisconsin. But that wouldn’t stop Dad from getting ice cream. And it won’t stop us tonight, either.
Yesterday, we visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help before traveling the final hour of our trip to Door County. The Shrine is lovely. Peaceful. And I thought of all of the good help I have received at the hand of a Good and Gracious God.
Help that comes in the form of a Wisconsin boy who loved with every breath and ate ice cream in the middle of winter and always had a book at arm’s reach, a boy who grew up on cheese curd and found ships & lighthouses aesthetically beautiful.
And there is still a bit of grace in a bite of ice cream, a book store aisle, a creamy cheese curd whether white or yellow, and the glimpse of a sailboat or a lighthouse.
I don’t need a vacation.
This is all I need.
The help that comes from grace – even wispy grace.