I sit high on the hill above the farm, my dog at my feet, the windmill at my back pumping away in the warm breeze. I commune with my late father, whose ashes I scattered on this spot almost 25 years ago. I was his ‘oldest buddy’ and we adored each other. He was the smartest man I have ever known. He never once let me down. He didn't call me his ‘best’ buddy, as he had 5 other children and he loved us all. However, I was his oldest child and, therefore, his ‘oldest buddy’. We relied on each other. My mother died when I was an infant, leaving just the two of us. He took me to work with him, and by the age of four I knew the name and purpose of every tool in his workshop and would hand him what he asked with the precision of a surgical technician. He taught me to drive a car when I was nine, though we never told anybody about that…..it was our secret. We both loved dogs and it was to him I brought the strays I rescued over the years, knowing my (step)mother would never let me keep them...but he would overrule her.
So it was I, his oldest buddy, who tended to him in his last years when nobody else came around because of his short temper and cutting words...brought on by the constant pain he suffered. Even so, he was ever loving, appreciative and kind to me. He always commented on how good I smelled to him whenever I hugged him tightly. We would go out for lunch and I would drive; he would direct our procession as we stopped here and there to do his small errands. Toward the end of his days, he would sit in the car and leisurely watch the people while I would pick up his groceries or medications, or the beer he enjoyed icy cold.
I think about my father as I sit on the high hill, where I will have his essence for company, his wisdom to support me and his spirit to protect me for the rest of my days. It is in this way he returns to life for me, like the miracle of Spring, which always returns after the dead of Winter.