I'd forgotten something of him, the way he moved his body perhaps, or the space in a room he took up with his thoughts. I remembered that I'd forgotten when I saw the man in the chair at the library and recognized him by his hat and even though my dad never wore a black suede cowboy hat like his brother Monte's, I still for a second thought, Dad's come to visit me at work! before I knew it was my uncle Monte and not my dad sitting there.
I put onto the correct display shelves the armload of books I was carrying and then I went to say hello to Uncle Monte, knowing it was risky because he is, like Dad was, known for talking. For talking for a long time, regardless of where the other person might need to be. But of course I said hello because even though he doesn't look just like my dad, he looks like my dad in that similar way siblings have. The way they move their bodies, the space their thoughts take up in a room, as if all those years of living together caused them to form the same way of being.
Mostly though it is right in his eyes, it's in the way he looks up at me and it is something about his smile and looking at my dad's brother in a chair in the library where I work and have thought about my dad but never seen him. It's that look that makes me remember all the things I've forgotten about my dad, the sound he made when something seemed stupid to him, the way he drank a soda before his mouth forgot how, how his back looked crooked when he walked. The way he walked. The way he moved his body, the space he took up in a room.
The sound of his voice saying my name.
I didn't forget I had a father. But somehow I forgot I had a father, had that father who was maddeningly long-winded, who once backed Kendell's truck into a pole at a gas station, who kept to himself. Who loved me like no one else ever did. I keep him with me but the particulars, the details, slide away; he's only been gone for one year, three months, and eleven days, for one Thanksgiving, one Christmas, four birthday dinners, two anniversaries, two Halloweens and a thousand photographs, but he's been gone for so long.
When Monte looked at me and we talked about the weather and why he was in my library and what he was reading in the newspaper I could tell his thought was my thought and if this was a movie instead of just writing you could hear how they overlapped: I miss my brother/I miss my dad/I miss my brother/I miss my dad/I miss him.
I miss him, I miss him, I miss him.
Maybe, try though a person might, maybe the particulars always slide away. Maybe it is inevitable. But the missing. The missing never goes away. I wouldn't want it to, because if I didn't miss him that would mean that all the particulars were gone. Not missing my father would be like I never had a father at all, and I hope desperately to never be so stripped of memory that I forget I had a father. Even though he forgot, in the end, that he had a daughter. That he had any of us.
Maybe, though, there will always be reminders to bring back some of the particulars: the way his body moved, the space in a room his thoughts filled up.