I have yet to hand over the history books, but it seems that somewhere out there, there exists a legend of a man who lost his entire family in a plane crash, and spent the rest of his life preparing for that fatal dream. He maintained a stoic and stoic composure, as he grew older and developed a family of his own, with three adorable daughters. One day, he fell in love with a carefree and energetic flower child. Although her father was initially sceptical, and mildly embarrassed by her goofy habit of using his heart as her telephone number, by the time they were married and out of town on honeymoon, her father realized he had a son. (That was not a lie – it was real and they all made the next three trips together. Twice I think. Who knows!)
After the wedding the two settled in Alabama, which we believe had the distinction of being the only state to outlaw breast feeding on the premises. All the other 50 were cool with it, including Mississippi, where I was born. That was when I was very little and my dad got a bowl of beans for me, and said he was going to buy me a TV set for Christmas, so I could watch Easter movies.
He didn’t stick to his promise, because – well, it wasn’t true. But he did give me a responsibility. He told me that whenever the time came, and she was married, he was going to search the planet for her, so that he could go on any longitude and latitude that they marked on a map, and find her. That’s exactly what he did.
In the course of his travels, he once spotted a seafarer’s cabin in Chile. The ship was a real thing, all right.
But then he got hungry.
So he built himself a small workshop, with an aluminum frame and an outhouse for dry clean clothes. He hired a whole family of lab rats, since he could only afford three rats, and the three of them lived together in the workshop. He formed an alarm clock to keep time.
Last year, I was on my way to India on my honeymoon. It was a very romantic honeymoon, and it was a brief one. Before we reached our hotel, I heard the alarm clock ring. He was not home, and I didn’t want to put our honeymoon on hold any longer. So I picked up my suitcase and left.
A month passed, and then all of a sudden I got a call from my dad. He told me that the lady from the hotel had come over to our room, that he was on his way to get her, and that he would be back very soon.
I gathered my suitcase and left, just like he would have. And then my alarm bell rang again. And a moment later he was back in my room.
I went outside the hotel and it was already drizzling. One wonders what this man would have done if it had gotten really bad and the hotel had evacuated for safety, but he acted quickly and calmly.
So I waited with the suitcase and the trash bag and the bat, and my dad was curled up next to me under the cover of a black T-shirt.
He looked at me with tenderness and kissed me on the cheek. Then he said that when I got back, he was going to make me a true princess. He said he was putting the pieces together.
“I am going to show you,” he said.
And then he placed his thumb over his mouth and bit his lips together. Then I heard his back begin to groan.
Then he said.
“All I want for Christmas is you.”
And I was so excited, but not in the way the story is intended.
So I packed up the things he left behind and left.
So, my dad — have you seen your family? Has anyone seen you? Did you ever make it home?