That’s my father’s foot — or, at least, his shoe — in the foreground of the shot of me. Yeah, definitely the shoe, given the angle. He would have been about 30 years old when the photo was taken. He turned 65 just last week, and I snuck down to Toronto and surprised him at his birthday bash. It was one of those Hallmark moments: the look of utter surprise as I walked into the room, then delight, and then the tears. Way better than a girl popping out of a cake.
For me, it was also three full, childless, spring days in Toronto, cycling around the city, visiting friends (ironically, all of whom seem to be pregnant or the parents of newborns. Teeny, tiny newborns.), remembering what that life was like. Slow mornings, meandering afternoons, sitting down for entire meals, late nights unclouded by the worry of early rising or babysitters on the clock.
On my last evening, just before my flight home — and just before his first photography class — I met my father for a glass of wine and some mussels on a patio on Queen Street East. Another rare, stolen hour: our visits these days are always full of children, family, chaos. He handed over early, perfect, Mother’s Day present for me and Rachel: gift certificates to Home Depot. We chatted — about his upcoming travels, my work, his grandchildren, my mother — as the sun hovered in the western sky just before its descent and parents walked their children home from daycare and dogs fetched sticks in the park across the street. And I thought, “I’m so glad I came.”
And then, much later that night, I met Rachel at the front door and touched the sleeping bodies of tiny boys in their beds, and thought, “I’m so glad to be home.”