He always wore these white New Balance shoes with navy blue writing, the most typical Dad shoes. He would buy them every single time he needed a new pair, if you find something you like why not right? He loved shirts with a chest pocket so that his cigarettes had a home. When I was little his choice was always Old Gold Cigarettes, white soft pack with red and gold accents. As he got older he started buying whatever the cheapest option was, often times camel. He never had a full head of hair for as long as I was alive. He always had a U-shaped bald spot on the top of his head, so greasy that it would leave a mark on our leather couch from the position he always laid. He always laid on his side, on arm folded under his body propping himself up, head leaned against the couch cushion, the same new balance shoes at the corner of the couch. I loved being able to crawl up and form my body to his when I was little, cuddling up next to him watching Texas Ranger or the Price is Right. His jeep, no matter how cold always had the driver’s side window cracked, often the driver’s side back seat window as well. He was always playing 92.5, the country station in Connecticut. He had this wart on his finger. He loved blue jeans and high white socks. His drink of choice was always Budweiser. He always had a small back comb in his back pocket along with a black leather wallet, always. He took pride in nice watches, he had many and wore one everyday. He had this bright, big smile when he showed it, other times he settled for a closed mouth smirk.
We remember a lot of things, we have remembered things that we haven’t even realized. There are sights, feelings, smells that our sense hold onto, that they save for later.
I’ve found in these past three months that there are certain things that trigger more of a reaction than others. I may see a white jeep and automatically find myself thinking of his, wishing we still had it. I may see “dad shoes” and be reminded of my own dad and his devoted loyalty to the New Balance brand. But, those don’t tend to trigger more than a thought about him. I’ve found the most powerful sense is smell. There is something about his scent that can bring me to tears instantly.
I have a windbreaker that was his, one that I wore on occasion when he was alive, that I had even worn this past summer when we chose to go to the beach on a cold and rainy day. At the time I wore it because I was cold, I knew it smelt like him then but it didn’t mean as much because I still had him. Now? It’s the smell that I love. I don’t think anyone else would appreciate the smell unless you knew him. It’s a mix of stale cigarettes, Irish Spring Soap…and well, him. I never realized that just one jacket, one smell, could be my doorway to so many memories. It’s the smell that triggers these things most for me.
Part of me wonders if my brain subconsciously connects the smell with him, I almost think that for a second my brain is fooled into thinking he is near and in the next moment it realizes that his smell is all that’s left. It’s a cruel joke to play on the mind, but it’s one that I’ll keep playing.