The Man I Smelled at the Post Office


I went to the Post Office today, and I smelled him as soon as I opened the double doors.

As memories flooded back, I look up at him buttoning his Sergeant uniform while determining, "that is the most handsome man on earth", I reluctantly lean over the engine of my Butterscotch-hued and racing-striped Ford LTD II while he explains to me the fine art of checking the oil as he wipes off the dipstick with a grungy rag, I pout as I wait outside by the mailbox because he is late once again for his custody weekend, I see him throwing soda and beer cans in the swiftly rippling creek for me to sink, while I pump the handle of the pellet rifle and take aim, I wince at his attempt to correct me through lecturing and hate him for a moment.
I smelled him as I filed in line behind the scent-bearer who scooted the TV-sized box along the floor with his right foot toward the counter.
Reminiscing, I see him ripping open a Christmas present: Brut Cologne in that Army plastic green bottle with a black metal lid, an 8-year old me rides with him on the front of his new Kawasaki and considering he lets me steer it, we instantly park in a startled aloe bush, I wake up before my senior high classes as he wakes me and reach out to take and drink the blended chocolate milk and cod liver oil potion (his effort to help me with symptoms of my juvenile arthritis) from the cleaned-out peanut butter jar, I see him passed out on the sofa, drunk, again.
I think about the years that he was around and the years he wasn't.
And I am grateful. For both.
Because, for all he was and all he wasn't, he was still my dad, and I am who I am because of adventures, heartbreak, hope, abandonment, anger.
As I surveyed the antics of the twin middle-schoolers each getting their passport photos taken in turn, extracting memories and emancipating tears, my heart finally realized that he was only human, just like me, and I can't fault him for his life choices, admirable or detestable, as they were his free will, as is mine.
And as I fiddled with getting my debit card out of my wallet, the One whispered to my soul, "I am your Father, I am an adventure, when your heart breaks, so does Mine, I endow your life with hope, I will never leave you nor desert you."
Acceptive, I hand Deborah the bubble-packaged book I'd sold on Amazon, I gave my earthly father leave, a sympathetic discharge. I completely rendered him blameless for anything wounding.
I leave the package behind. At that counter. Where with the swipe of a card, the debt is paid, the parcel is taken out of my hands, and there is closure.
Meanwhile, the man that I smelled has exited.
And so has a lifetime of pining.

 

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