As I walked through the lobby, I noticed an older gentleman perched on the arm of a chair. I probably would have walked right past without even registering his presence if it hadn't been for his beautiful snow white hair. My dad had hair like that. I literally shook my head, trying to dislodge the notion. Nothing to be gained by boarding that particular thought train.
A woman walked behind him - she appeared to be around my age. She stroked his back casually, then tousled his hair as she passed. My innards clenched into a painful knot. I wanted to pass behind my dad and touch his back or his hair. He had such beautiful hair. Not a huge hug - just a tiny touch. A passing touch. Nothing. Everything. I missed him so much in that moment that I wasn't sure if I could remember how to walk - how to breathe.
But I breathed.
And I walked.
And I functioned. My day went on. Life went on. I thought about other things. I pushed the man in the lobby to the back of my mind.
Later, though, alone in my room, I allowed my thoughts to wander back to him. Not the man in the lobby - the man he conjured up for me. My dad.
He wasn't terribly demonstrative with his affections - not physically, at least. As an adult - I could count on a hug hello and goodbye when I visited with him and not much more. It didn't matter. It was who he was.
When he was sick, though - when he had his stroke - I think I touched him more then than I did in my entire adult life combined. I held his hand and he allowed it - encouraged it, even. I stroked his hair - something I'd always wanted to do but rarely if ever did because I thought it would have made him uncomfortable. He offered no protest. Perhaps it was disrespectful to treat him in sickness in a way that I never would have presumed to in health. Maybe he knew there would be no more chances. Maybe... maybe...
I was glad the woman in the lobby had touched that man's hair. I projected father/daughter roles onto them. It was a hotel lobby in DC - I could have been wrong - but I like to think I'm right.
I wish I'd tousled my dad's hair more - just in passing. Maybe he wouldn't have minded.
I'm going to go touch my husband's hair now. He has such beautiful hair.