my sweet poppo would be 102 today. were he here, i would treat him to a scotch on the rocks, a good steak on the grill (that he doesn’t have to stress over), chocolate ganache cake, a hot cup of coffee. i would tease him and poke at him, asking him if he remembered to get my momma an anniversary card (for they were married on his birthday and it would be their 79th anniversary and, for some reason, this was always my job through the years – to take on the angst of wondering if my dad remembered…).
i wish he were here.
we were in our airbnb in the little mountain town.
we had just arrived that day. took a walk downtown, had pop-up happy hour on the porch, made a sheet-pan dinner, relished being there.
a warm and welcoming old house, there was a wine bottle stand in the dining room that held books and brochures of the area, menus and hiking trails, places to forge metal and horsebackride, guides to hundreds of waterfalls. good resources to plan our next days.
i randomly pulled out the small book on the end of the shelf and flipped it open. this was the page it flipped to. “how do you like them apples?” because i am redundant (yepyep) and because some things stick in my mind more than others, i have already written about how my dad always said this. kind of a nonsensical phrase, sometimes appropriate in context, sometimes not so much. it is with tremendous fondness i hear or see this phrase. it goes along with “do you think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?”
i held it open, photographed it, wanted to pack it away in my backpack. i was held – suspended – in a moment with my dad. he smiled from afar and thought he was pretty clever to pull it off.
he wanted to live to 100. if you asked him how he was, he would tell you that he was going to live to 100.
but he didn’t.
i wonder if he’s shaking his head on the other side, incredulous that things just work out how they work out, in spite of our plans, saying, “how do you like them apples?”.
though we loved that they were there – particularly me – we didn’t open the brochures much. we just punted and found ourselves on gravel roads in the woods seeking trailheads and climbing to waterfalls and granite outcroppings in forests of rhododendron, surprised again and again by howdoyoulikethemapples moments.