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Monday, January 31, 2011

Midnight - Part II

I'd awake to the sound of our little dog barking her greeting, quickly hushed as she went about the business of greeting the Master of the house, but none could stifle her excited whines or the musical chime of the tags jangling on her collar.

The door would close and if I listened hard, I could hear him take off his coat and hang it up, in my mind's eye envisioning the fog of condensed air arising from him as he came in, if it was especially frigid outdoors.

Snug and warm in my bed, I'd watch the play of shadows on my wall, listening, waiting for the right time. Sometimes I'd hear my brother emerge from his room; maybe he'd be a "barometer" to predict the weather, for if he was rebuked I'd remain where I was, but if he was welcomed I'd listen further to discern whether this was his night or mine, our ours together.

Usually there would be hushed conversation as Mom greeted Dad, and the clump of his shoes on the entryway floor. There would be noises in the kitchen and finally I'd hear Mom head to bed, finally content that Dad was safe at home.

If my brother hadn't already made his entrance, I'd wait to hear Mom's shadow enter my room, for it was never there without her slippered feet. I could hear her walk through our long, rambling livingroom only to stop at my door to look in, and then, with her silhouette blocking the lamplight, I would query sleepily (sometimes feigned) "What time is it?"

She'd answer in a hushed tone, "Midnight", and move away, into their bedroom. I'd watch the light come on in the closet between us, comforted by that crack of illumination, still listening to the sounds of Dad in the kitchen, wondering if I could go, wondering if sleep would overtake me once again, or whether I would this time fall prey to the monster in my closet or the ghost under the bed.

I remember most clearly, though, entering the brightness of the kitchen to greet my Daddy, and ask to join him in his evening snack. Sometimes it would be cheese and crackers, which is something my brother acutely recalls, but my most vivid memory is my introduction to sardines.

Dad told me at first that I wouldn't like them, but I was curious, and he said that it was good that I wanted to try. He told me how to eat them on the crackers, and said that if I didn't like mine, it would not go to waste for he would eat what I left.

Carefully Dad lifted a sardine from the little tin-sealed pack, which had carefully been peeled with a little "key".  He placed the oily, dripping piece of fish on a cracker and told me to take a bite, holding a napkin under my chin so that I would not have to change my clothes before bed.

I recall clenching my eyes shut against the fishy odor, certain I would not like it, for although I loved fishing with my Daddy, I did not love the flavor (or terrible smell!) of the creatures.So it was that I expected to be disgusted.

In great surprise, however, I rather enjoyed the crunchy, salty flavor of sardines, and in delight that exceeded my own, Dad loaded up another saltine, thrilled to share his Midnight snack

Our little Midnight meetings became a bit of a ritual over time, and Dad delighted in spending some of his late evenings with me, splitting them with my brother who would sometimes join us.

Dad would help me wash up then send me off with a kiss, sometimes tuck me back into bed..and other times Mom would get up and drag me away, insisting that I must sleep no matter how exited I was for Dad to be home with a new can of sardines to share with me.

In Church, whenever we heard about Jesus eating fish with the Apostles, I thought about the sardines Dad and I shared. Even now, as an adult, when I consider the passage in Luke's gospel where the Risen Lord consumes the fish in their presence, I imagine sardines and recall a similar midnight snack, and even though Dad is now long gone, I like to imagine him sitting on the beach with Jesus, sharing sardines on saltine crackers.

It's midnight as I finish this, and although I recently bought sardines in a fit of nostalgia, somehow they just aren't the same without someone else with whom to share them properly.

Good night, Dad.


Faith said...

My Dad and I shared a snack of peanut butter and butter on a saltine. You take a saltine, put a pat of butter on it, then a smear of peanut butter. Delicious. We were'nt worried about our arteries, then.

Adoro said...

Ah, yes, I still eat peanut butter on saltine crackers! (When I think of it, that is)

I don't care about my arteries...yummy snacks are yummy snacks and dietary science changes on the half-hour so I disregard it as trash to be read and then used to fuel the grill.