Over breakfast on Father’s Day morning, Arlo told me, “I’m sorry.” When I ask her why, she said I was probably missing my dad.
My father, Chilton, has been gone for more than 12 years. I still miss him but my chest doesn’t ache quite like it used to. I miss him most when I read a good book I would like to share with him, when my beautiful daughters do something that would tickle him, or when I think about some event from my childhood I wish I could rehash with him. He always remembered the details.
Recently I’ve been working on a project of cleaning up and tidying the shelves in our basement, which have acquired more than a decade’s worth of junk. Most of this stuff we don’t need or have long since forgotten we had in the first place.
Some of the stuff is useful: a big plastic box of incandescent lightbulbs, enough extra bedding to host an epic sleepover, spare plates and champagne glasses for dinner parties.
Much of what I’ve found is less useful but has more sentimental value: my favorite of Willa and Arlo’s baby toys, letters I received in high school, four blue glass bottles I bought at a flea market in Vienna.
I want to let some of this stuff go.
Offering: a jewelry box given to me by my father one Christmas in the 1980s, I don’t remember exactly when. I can tell you with near certainty that it is one of the only gifts he ever gave me aside from height, big feet, the hands of a workman, and a collection of letters from him, which is what I really treasure.