What You Gotta Remember
“What you gotta remember is sometimes change is good. It might not be better, could be awful for awhile. But then you discover what you can really do. Change forces you to be your best. Everyone wants a chance to be their best, right?” — Charles Merle Pittman, 1928-2006, Navy & Coast Guard Radioman, Sheet Metal Worker, Electronics Engineer, Husband, Father, Friend
Orchids On the telephone, my father speaking of the way he slices steak into strips, lays them together with sweet yellow onions, slivers of cheese, the precise way he folds the flour tortilla to hold everything together, then how he grows tomatoes in the basement under a bright lamp not far from the orchids laden with buds, breaking into blossom.
Later, awake in bed, I think of my father three hours into the future, folded into a quilt my mother made, into the fragile veil of sleep that holds him each night, the big house silent except for the gurgling of baseboards sputtering their heat and the hum of those lamps in the basement, the air still parted and moving where he stepped from vine to vine, then the long look into the open faces of his flowers.
One March night, I am there, he wakes briefly, propping himself up on a shaky arm, and says, “I have to go somewhere,” then he drops back, a grey furrow in the white pillow, and through the window, bare maples, fractured moon, one winged seed out of season, spinning and drifting. At home, orchids turn toward light in the greenhouse, their lavender petals splotched and soft, their purple lips parted as if about to speak.
The words above are what my father told me when I moved out at 19, on my own in a studio apartment, several months before my family moved across country. Still good advice.