Room to remember

rollin

This baby is due on June 4, exactly nine years and 364 days after my father died. I remember the bright sunshine of that afternoon, and feeling helpless as I watched his life slip away on the driveway, under the bay of windows that looked out of my childhood room. It’s strange to teeter on the verge of parenthood now and the things that remind me of him.

I don’t think of my dad – Papa –  when I stand among pine trees on a hike, and the wind tickles the needles. I don’t see him in a Bluebird perched on a fence, and I don’t often visit the grave site where he is buried. Instead, it’s in things like spotting an Eames lounge like the one I used to get in trouble for twirling on as a kid. It’s in imagining his appreciation for the Saarinen-designed dorms at Drake, or wondering if he was on the S.O.M. team that designed Cap Square.

Kneeling to cover a corner of the new nursery in a coat of paint, a wave of missing him came over me like I haven’t felt for a long time. I took in the light bouncing off the primed white walls and imagined my dad in the space, assessing and appreciating as an architect would. I could practically hear him telling me to keep the walls white in the same modern aesthetic that never really worked in our house when I was growing up. (We were more handprint smudges and clutter and dust than a page from DWELL. I’m the same, still.)

In my early teens, I rebelled against the white walls in my room. I picked out a can of Martha Stewart Batter Bowl Green and my dad taught me how to roll it on by making V-shapes instead of going straight up and down. This weekend, I let the tears fall as I retraced that motion with a shade of green on the walls of the nursery.

I realized that, in a strange way, building this room has helped me to feel like my papa is a part of his grandchild’s life, even though they’ll never meet. I could almost imagine him alongside Joe and his dad, working on the electrical, or there with another paint roller, helping even though he disagreed with the shade. (The heather gray hall walls, I know he’d like.) My dad and I refinished a dresser together once, and Joe uses it in our room. I think I’ll have to play Warren Zevon’s album “The Wind” when I paint over the baby’s this weekend. I wonder what will remind my baby of me when I’m gone.

Warren Zevon: Keep Me in your Heart

Shadows are falling and I’m running out of breath
Keep me in your heart for awhile
If I leave you it doesn’t mean I love you any less
Keep me in your heart for awhile

Sometimes when you’re doing simple things around the house
Maybe you’ll think of me and smile
You know I’m tied to you like the buttons on your blouse
Keep me in your heart for awhile

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3 Comments

Filed under At home, Baby, Life lessons

3 responses to “Room to remember

  1. Beautiful post, Brianne. I often wonder about the pieces of ourselves we leave behind for those we love. How bittersweet but lovely the moments of connection you’ve found with thoughts of your father as you build this room for the next generation. Very touching, and you’ve captured it so well in words here — as always. Best wishes to you on this journey…

  2. This made my eyes well up. Lovely words, Brianne.

  3. Thanks for the sweet words, ladies!

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