Tonight, I was doing the dishes after the kids were in bed. They were sleeping, Chris was working late, and the house was quiet. As it often does in times like these, my mind drifted to thoughts of my dad while I mindlessly scrubbed pots and pans.
I remembered the first time he and my mom visited Chris and I after we moved to Connecticut. We were newlyweds at the time, and were so excited to show them our apartment and the new life we were building.
I remember it was after dinner and my dad was doing the dishes for us because I had cooked.
“Where’s your sink strainer?” he asked, looking around for one to put in the kitchen sink drain.
“Oh,” I said absentmindedly as my mom and I talked at the kitchen table. “We don’t use one.”
My dad stood there in total and complete shock. He gave me this look like I had just sprouted three heads and offered him a cigarette. I had grown up in a house that used a drain strainer. How could I not use one?
“You don’t use one?” he said. “What does that mean?”
I could see my mom cut her eyes over at Dad and give him that look that said, “Shut up, David…” and I knew that I was getting ready to rock my dad’s world.
“We just don’t use one,” I said casually. “We don’t even have one.”
He stood there in complete silence, trying to fathom a kitchen with no drain strainer.
“Well, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” he said simply.
“DAVID!” my mom shouted, giving him THE LOOK that only 20-plus years of marriage can perfect. “Katie’s married now with a house all her own. She’s allowed to keep it however she wants.”
“Married or single, it doesn’t matter. It’s still stupid,” grumbled my dad, and he turned back to finish doing the dishes.
A few days later, I got back from the airport where I had dropped my parents off for their flight home. I went into the kitchen to start dinner and sitting in my sink drain was a bright and shiny new drain strainer. I smiled and shook my head. Only my dad…
Stories like that come to me often these days. Small, insignificant stories that probably don’t mean anything to anyone other than me. But they make me smile as I’m doing my dishes and they fill my heart with that unmistakable blend of joy and sadness that is synonymous with the loss of a profound loved one.
Tonight as I finished cleaning the kitchen and was about to flip the kitchen light off, I went back to the cabinet under our sink and pulled out an old drain strainer I remembered was sitting under there. I carefully placed it in my sink drain and then smiled and shook my head.
Only my dad…