Morning Ritual (in my father’s house)

the dogs and me watching Wimbledon 2023

Morning Ritual (in my father’s house)

I could hear the gentle sounds of tennis coming through the walls and my father watched the women’s Wimbledon final.  I knew this because he told me last night. Said he would keep the sound down. The smell of his spiritual incense coming through the whistling air vent in my bedroom. It was actually the music room. I was sleeping surrounded by guitars, drums, and keyboards, and my dad’s unfolded shelves of t-shirts. (Something he learned to do when he was a boy with a single mom.)

I lingered in the morning rousing. Enjoying the meditative smell and white noise of the AC. It would be 105 today in Texas. But for now, I was snuggled in between the instruments, all calling me to get up and make some noise. I lulled back to sleep.

Bacon. He loved to cook an entire pound of bacon in the oven. He had it down to perfection, actually. I was really raised on perfectly crispy bacon, and the smell of it’s love filling the house for hours. I could hear the difference in the sound and clunk on the tennis from the other room as well. I must’ve slept all the way through the women’s match. Men’s grunts and pop-off the strings have a different sound altogether. I’m not a tennis player. My dad tried to get me out of the court, but I was more into Lego and then Minecraft and then Team Fortress 2. He loved tennis, though. I think so far this summer I’ve seen him paying 5 times a week.

“It’s my workout,” he told me the other day. You’ve got to find some exercise you love. Because you’ve got to keep your body in good shape or you end up like Nana.” My grandmother and my uncle were both pretty big. Unhealthy. I have seen my dad looking pretty fat, during the Dell/depression/divorce years. He’s paying more attention to his health no that he seems to have his mental game back to 100%. I think he’s even written a book about his “dark periods.” I am a bit scared to read it. But there it is, staring at me from the hearth of his fireplace in the living room. He’s got all of his books laid out. Must be some form of self-affirmation. Still, that book haunts me a bit. I mean, I heard it when he said, “I am your doppelganger only 40 years further down the road of life.” He’s right, of course, but that doesn’t make it any easier to talk about the shit going on in my life. Not easier at all. Maybe harder. Oh, yeah, and he’s a life coach, so he helps people with their issues. Another reason I feel a bit cautious about sharing much with him.

And he’s switched to Beck’s Guerro in the next room. Ah, the song of the last year he was living in the same house with us. He always woke us up with music. Sometimes a jam box he carried from room to room, or, more often, his guitar and singing some song he was writing or learning. We woke up in the house of music when my dad was still in the house. It got really quiet and real serious after he was removed. Nobody was happy in the morning like my dad. “The Breakfast King” he use to say. “What can I make for you this fine morning?” That’s a pretty good picture of my dad. Usually happy, usually playing or listening to music, and ever ready to make you breakfast, even on the weekends when he let us sleep in. He loves making food for people. Just like his mom did for him and his friends.

I’m gonna lay here for a bit longer to the sounds of the songs that formed such a large period of my life. I never quite understand how the songs from this album hit me in a deep place. Like this album and a few other “morning songs” are steeped deep into my bones. My dad loves music. Now, so do I. And this summer, in the house of guitars, we’re going to do some fun music together. For now, I’m gonna sleep a bit longer. The bacon will still be there. And if Dad’s not out playing tennis, I’m sure he’ll whip up some of his famous French toast or migas.


Read more Short-Short Stories from John.

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