I have no idea what triggered this conversation 10ish years ago, but the memory will crack me up forever:
[Setting ~ Dad, JR and I watch TV in my parents’ family room]
Dad: “Kelly will be a cougar someday.”
JR & me in unison: “What?!”
Dad: “What?” (pause) “Why, what’s a cougar?”
Me: “A cougar is an older woman who sexually preys on young men.”
Dad: “Oh! Shit. Never mind. I thought it was just a good-looking older woman. Sorry, JR.”
Yup, that’s right. “Sorry, JR.” 🙄 😂
I love this memory of Dad. Simple and lighthearted. Perfect. As the months pass, I find myself treasuring these types of memories the most.
Earlier this week, a group of family and friends traveled to the Marquesas Keys to honor Dad’s life and release his ashes into the waves, per his oft-repeated request. In the photo above, I hold his ashes in one hand and a journal in which I’d written a brief tribute to him in the other. By some miracle, I managed to say the words out loud with a minimum of tearful pauses.
I realize now that I left something out: “Thank you for changing your mind about my future cougar status after you found out what a cougar is.”
It’s interesting to see photos of myself at Dad’s memorial, my arm bearing the words Nadie sale vivo. While people continue to misinterpret the tattoo’s meaning (no, it doesn’t mean I want to kill everyone), for me, it continues to be a helpful reminder to honor each moment of life – each breath, each heartbeat, each moment. It prompts me to hold my loved ones close and leave no kind word unspoken. No one lives forever, not even the dearest dads, and we never know which hug or “I love you” will be the last.