I erased the message and put the phone down slowly as I leaned back on my pillow, folding my arms across my chest. With all of the craziness going on with De Alexia I had completely forgotten that the anniversary of Dad’s death was in two short weeks. I hadn’t thought about it once. Angry with myself for not realizing it was so near, I looked at my calendar. Thankfully, the day was free of any meetings or trips. I could continue our family tradition unencumbered.
Every year on the anniversary of Dad’s death, my brother and I would meet at Dad’s grave in Cincinnati, no matter the cost or inconvenience. We hadn’t skipped an anniversary once in almost fifteen years. In the early years, as a couple of lost preteens, we would stand in front of his grave and mourn for an hour, trying to figure out how to remember and celebrate our dearly missed dad. As we grew older, however, our visits turned into a glorified tailgate of sorts, complete with food, beer, and music.
Now, every year at noon on April 21st, my brother and I would plant our lawn chairs next to Dad’s headstone and crack open some beers. Rain or shine, our visits usually lasted for hours, rendering both of us way too drunk to drive home. There were a couple of years it was so stormy that we had almost given up. But no matter what the weather, we always pulled through for Dad.
Sometimes we would reminisce about him, sharing our favorite memories until we were too tired to laugh or cry. Other times, we would chat about what was going on in our own lives, catching up as if we had met for coffee on a random afternoon. Our tradition was actually a great way for us to spend some uninterrupted time together. And I liked to think that Dad enjoyed the time we spent updating him on our lives.
Mother had participated in the early years – mostly out of necessity because neither Michael nor I could drive. But as the years passed and Michael and I were able to operate a car on our own, Mother ‘moved on’ and stopped coming altogether. I doubt she had been to Dad’s grave for nearly a decade. Although I liked visiting Dad without her, I had a hard time forgiving her for forgetting him. It was like she had tossed that part of our lives aside while she was busy becoming Mrs. Whomever whenever the mood was right. To date, she had been married and divorced three times since Dad’s death.
The first marriage came only five years after he died, to a man she met during grief counseling. She told me she would never remarry, only to renege on that promise when I was seventeen. Their wedding invitations featured the catchphrase, “It’s never too late for happily ever after.” It made me sick. Watching her marry man after man then toss them aside left me wondering whether she would have done the same to Dad had he lived.
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About the Author:
After practicing law for nearly three years, Jennifer Vessells decided to leave the practice to pursue her dream of being a novelist. After an intensive year and a half of writing, Ms. Vessells is proud to finally present her debut novel to the world - a story that's been marinating since her early college days.
Passionate about women's fiction and children's chapter books, Ms. Vessells plans to enjoy a long writing career. Keep your eye out for more exciting publications from this author in the future!
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