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the Best of Us

imageIt doesn’t seem to matter who it is: as soon as the hammers and drills come out, so do odd bursts of falsetto Aerosmith, Journey and Rush. Do I ever hear Fellow sing? In church, yes. But he’s a regular Old Time Rockin’ roller with Zac, laying those floors. Beer cans, uncharacteristic over usage of expletives, laughter and the occasional bashing of one’s head (Zac is young, he does this).

I wonder at their physical strength and endurance and ability to build things. They finish up yet another twelve hour day. And they look up with a grateful grin when I call out “supper’s on” and present them a beautiful steak dinner with grilled asparagus, curly garlic runners and roasted potatoes with rosemary I found in our garden.

This is so very much the way I grew up. When times were good, that is. I half expect to see my mother in the mirror, with a headband, a hippy shirt and embroidered bell bottoms. I think of this as I look down at her engagement ring now refurbished and on my finger.

I look at Fellow and smile. He has most of the traits I loved about my father: he can do almost anything he sets his mind to, he’s family centred and generous and strong willed and masculine. He’s the kind of man my father was at his best. The man my mother married, the man who called my sister “baby” long after she had outgrown it, the man my brother defends the honour of, the son my Nonna favoured, the Dad who told me to follow my dreams, no matter what.

I think of Nora’s Dad and how nervous he was to be a parent until she was born. That moment she was caught and wrapped all wriggly then snuggled up against his neck, kittenish, he was a natural.

I think of my brother who is now heading into a new home and a third child. He married well and has an excellent career, but most importantly, he grew up to be a man of integrity. I think of my sister who is soaring with her music and building a very solid career and raising two beautiful daughters with a loving Dad.

So much good has come out of it all, despite heart ache, despite untimely death, despite human folly. I remember the day my Mom lost her diamond in the swimming pool and Dad accused her of selling the stone to have money enough to leave him. I remember her frightened pale face. I remember his angry snarl. I remember wondering myself if this was true and hoping it was so we could escape the terror we called home. And we did.

Nine years later, after my Mom happily remarried, she gave me this tiny little hidden ring with a gaping hole in the middle. Maybe I’d figure out what to fill it with.

And I have.

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