• Shawn McNulty-Kowal

My Father, Henry

I never liked using the word, “homesick.” I am missing home, but I am not sick. Sick means lousy and tired, but my memories of home are not. How could I be sick when the oranges in Valencia are picked from branches to be squeezed into orange juice? My immune system does not need to be repaired and it does not have to heal any ailments. No, I am not quite sick as I am longing. Longing for morning conversations with my father. Conversations about how I slept. I always ask him how he slept, but he never answers, instead he says something like, “Nice to be back in your own bed, huh?,” he’ll respond. He will ask questions and reassure you of the importance in your being.

I want to be like my father. A man who wakes up early to make sure everyone has a cup of coffee and one who drinks a cup while everyone else is still dreaming. One who reads the Sunday newspaper like he’s preparing for an exam on a subject he’s been studying his entire life.

And I want to be like my father – the kind that loses interest quickly by mundane conversation, but the kind that stays patient and eager so as to not off end those who stand before him. The kind that shows his strength through that patience and calmness. I miss mornings with my father – mornings that feel slower. Mornings that are home to conversations that make me pray for my father’s immortality. I want to be like my father – a man whose voice sounds like heels walking on marble tiled floors and a man whose smile translates to Take things slowly, Stay still for now.

He is good at remembering things: the music you listen to when you feel despondent, the way your grandmother liked her tea, your favorite meal and the way your voice sounds when you sing.

When I think about my father, I think about those mornings spent talking and I think I understand what homesickness is – a longing that runs so deep and turns so dense it can make you feel dizzy. Thoughts of my father’s tilted head when reading or looking at something with rapture and his leaning gait when first leaving a seated position seem to fill my head so entirely and so quickly that I feel a headache coming on – the beginning of a cold? It seems as though homesickness is an incurable disease when you’re away and memories of time spent with my father turn immovable in my head like they are dribs of melted wax on burning candles.


And I’m not quite sure I’d like to find a cure because in these memories, I discover bliss and in these memories, I create a world where conversations with my father never end. In this world, I hope time is a thing you can buy and memories, the only form of payment.



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