Posted by Duff

One of the coolest things about becoming a parent is how it can bring you closer to your own parents.

You may understand, on a cellular level, why they wouldn’t let you follow the railroad tracks to the drugstore when you were 10, date that senior boy as a freshman girl, or stay up past a certain time when there was a morning school bus to catch.

You might also wonder how they made it through whatever stage of parenting you’re in currently. Recently, I apologized to my mother. “What for?” she asked (I had been vague). “For all of it,” I said, “But today, specifically, for being three once.”  She broke into a long-awaited smile of vindication.

If you’ve lost a parent you adored, however, parenting brings new possibilities for grief on a daily basis. Even if you’ve successfully grieved that parent (whatever that means), you now must grieve The Grandparent your child(ren) won’t know.

The Dervish and Atticus are shy one grandfather, and they don’t understand that yet. I’m sure explaining that to them, when they’re older, is going to feel like hugging a porcupine. I’m not sure how I’ll explain it with any authority. I don’t have any answers.

But just last night, I saw my child through my father’s eyes. I can’t imagine anything that would make me feel closer to him.

I regularly watch The Dervish be adamant, triumphant, unintimidated. I do it myself may as well be playing from a cassette ca. 1977.  “She looks like you,” says a waitress, and I miss my father terribly.

An hour later, I’m washing The Dervish’s hair and she directs the process, terrified of soap in her eyes. And I experience my father telling one of his favorite stories of me at this age.

He pours water over my head with a large avocado green pitcher and I shriek “Soapinmyeyes! Soapinmyeyes! Soapinmyeyes!” in nasal preschooler patois. I’m making a fuss for nothing–there is no soap in my eyes, and he laughs.

In this instant, as sure as The Dervish kneels in the tub with rinsed hair and wet eyelashes, he has inhabited my heart and shared a moment with his granddaughter.