We all went around my brother-in-law’s Thanksgiving table–my own brood, my dad, my mother in law, her old friend, her partner, my partner’s dad, my partner’s brother’s family and his wife’s mother–and said what we were thankful for. Many of us said we were thankful for the Occupy Movement (as ironic as that might have been, from around a well-stocked table in a comfortable, warm home). All of us who were not retired and of working age were hugely thankful for our full, rewarding, gainful employment. Most of the kids under 12 demurred, though I know their gratitude is big, if fairly tightly woven into need and dependence and hope and expectation.
My dad was grateful simply to be alive and here for another Thanksgiving, and I immediately seconded that thankfulness. I went on to say specifically: each morning when I walk from the bus stop to work, I call Pops, and we talk for the 12 or 13 minutes it takes me to get to my building’s elevator, where the signal begins to fail us. It’s always too short, but he’s a lot more alert during this morning call than he used to be when we talked after I got the kids to bed. The calls during when I’m interruptable by the kids are usually just too hard to sustain.
But in these morning calls, each time we each hear each other’s voice, we are both so heart-warmed. I can hear it in his voice, and he can hear it in mine. He always wants to know where I am in the walk, since by now I have described each landmark: the intersection crossing some 10 or more lanes in total, the canal I pass over, the wild fennel I walk by, the sound and the traffic of the freeway just a surface road and a chain-link fence away. The fog as it lingers over the peninsula foothills a short distance to the west. He was for decades a geography professor; he is curious about these things.
He asks about my work; I tell him about his grandkids’ leaps and bounds; I ask him how he is, and he always answers, “Oh, I’m fiiiiiine.” I have to believe him. It doesn’t really matter what we talk about. It just matters that we coexist there, in that space of connectedness we both know is rarer and rarer by the day.
I walk in the door to work having just said, yet again, “I love you, Pops.” Smile on my face, grateful he’s still alive.