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, 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 memory, and empty the vessel that had become ensnared in meaning and emotions disproportionate to its purpose.
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 item. Dad wasn’t in there.
He’s with me.