My dad drank Bombay. Bombay gin on the rocks. “Not Sapphire”, which he thought was too strong and ruined the flavor, and repeated emphatically.
He drank it twice a year, maybe thrice. His birthday on the 19th of February, and Christmas. Very rarely on Thanksgiving or New Year’s Eve. He didn’t drink much and it walloped him like a sledgehammer. Once a neighbor, after breaking down the bathroom door because Dad had been absent and unresponsive for a long time, found him asleep, curled up on the rug on the bathroom floor after a single martini.
I guess he needed to close his eyes for a moment.
If you’re wondering, I have the same alcohol tolerance. I know the feeling. But I digress.
Because Bombay was the drink of choice, we kept a bottle just for him. After he died there was a shot or two left at the bottom which I tucked in the back of the cabinet. I was careful never to offer it to anyone. Guests drank from the Costco-sized bottle of Sapphire in the front. Or maybe Hendricks, if I liked them.
Yesterday was the seventh anniversary of losing my dad whom I have missed every day. Such was our relationship. Such was his presence. I thought about the bottle at the back of cabinet. It seemed to me that someone (not I) should have that last shot in his honor and I should release the empty bottle that had become ensnared in meaning and emotions disproportionate to a glass bottle. Of gin.
My husband likes gin and I asked him to do the honors. Not coincidentally he happily (maybe enthusiastically) obliged. At about nine o’clock last evening he poured it over ice and toasted to my dad.
I thought it would hurt more. I was glad it didn’t. This morning I saw the container in the garage. Unceremoniously tossed into our blue recycling bin for glass and plastic. I had to breathe deeply. I remembered, as I generally do in such situations, what my sister-in-law always says to me. “Dad’s not in there.”
Indeed. Dad can’t be captured. In a bottle. In a word. In an essay. Dad was larger than life. To me anyway.
Healing is such a convoluted process. I think I’m in one place to find I’m not even on that plane let alone locale. Instead I’m somewhere in a tornado, round and round, feeling the whirl of multiple emotions, then tossed up and out in a heap. In spite of my sorrow, I’m left with gratitude that he was my dad.
So with my morning coffee, I too, say, “Hear! Hear!” to Dad. I love you, Dad. And cheers to me. I let go of a meaningless material item. Dad wasn’t in there.
He’s with me.