I was alone the first time I went over to Dad’s apartment after he passed. I wasn’t sure how being there would affect me. It felt strange unlocking the door. He always left it unlocked for me though I had a key. Things were just the way my mom and I had left them eighteen days before.
I snapped some photos and turned on Dad’s Eagles CD. Over the next two and a half hours, I collected a stack of letters, cards, stories, and such I had written to him. He had a few different places where he’d stashed letters and cards from family and friends. It was comforting to know how many people had reached out to him over the years, reminding him he’s loved and thought of often.
I searched for other things I’d made and was surprised by some of the ones I found tucked away: oddly-shaped clay pottery from elementary school, a big smooth rock with a girl’s face painted on it, a poster of pictures my mom, sisters, and I had given him one Father’s Day.
I had it in my mind to get the plastic plate I’d decorated with markers when I was six. For reasons I couldn’t understand even soon after I’d finished my two plates, I concentrated on holiday themes. I decorated one plate by drawing a heart for Valentine’s Day, a four-leaf clover for St. Patrick’s day, and a random sunshine (perhaps because my parents used to sing “You are my sunshine…” to us when we were little). On the top, my mom or perhaps another adult, had written Happy Mother's Day 1987, and I signed LOVE, Trisha at the bottom. My mom still has this plate and uses it regularly.
The second plate I decorated with two really big, bordering on oval Easter eggs sitting on a small patch of green grass. After we finished, the plates were somehow sealed and made ready to be used. It didn’t take long before it occurred to me that I should have chosen something else in my six-year-old art repertoire that would have been more appropriate to use year-round. I know for a time I was embarrassed that I’d drawn Easter eggs on the plate that we would end up using all year.
The Easter egg plate was at Dad’s. It was one of the things I definitely wanted to bring home with me. I didn’t see it in the cupboard. Dad usually used paper plates, so he didn’t have to use what little energy he had to do dishes. I checked in the dishwasher, and there it was. I picked it up to wash it and looked closely at the tomato sauce stuck to the Easter eggs and grass, then I remembered the Pizza Hut box I saw out on his counter the night he passed away.
I took comfort in something as simple as knowing he ate his last supper on the plate I had decorated years ago. Perhaps it made him think of when my sister and I were young. Maybe he thought of the tickling matches, games of tag, and books he read to us. I’m not sure, but I liked thinking that’s what came to mind.
I can’t think of anything more fitting than finding out the plastic Easter Egg plate I made years ago was what he’d used hours before his death. It reminded me of Christ’s promise to conquer death through His Resurrection. I never thought something so mundane could turn into a blessing. God’s just full of surprises, though, isn’t He?
Note: I originally wrote and posted this entry in August of 2009 soon after my dad passed away. Thinking of him lately and it being Easter (and me still having and using that plate) got me thinking it was a good one to revisit.