A number of years ago (16? 18? 20?) my mom, brothers and I lived in Iowa City, in a house where our dad no longer lived. He came over sometimes, though, to see us, and bring us things like a whole canister of Pringles just for me, or giant chocolate Easter bunnies.
(At the time, that seemed so damn cool. Now I realize what we really needed was new soccer cleats or toothpaste).
He came over on this day, however many years ago, for a family birthday party that my mom was throwing him – giving him – for us. I remember that we had cheese curds, and a new VCR, and other treats to make this day special.
And it was special. Until it wasn't.
He was on a bender, and rambling, going off about how he could never be the right kind of man for us, the kind like my uncles, or the neighborhood dads. I sat on the porch with him, not knowing what or how to answer.
It is one of the clearest memories I have of him.
Many of my childhood memories are like this, fragments of days that were supposed to turn out one way, and instead went another. I could write more like this - like the time the cops showed up in the middle of the night, to haul him away, handcuffed. Or the time he wrapped his beloved Dodge around a telephone pole. Or the time I had to call my mom from Godfathers Pizza, to tell him Mike had ordered a drink.