I wish you could meet my Dad.
I would take you on a tour of Dad, like in a museum. “This is my Dad. Everyone says he could get along with anybody,” I’d say.
“Not always,” he’d say, and then he’d charm you and surprise me with a new story about that one time.
Moving along, in the next exhibit, you can observe his beer growler collection. You can tell he had taste because liked such a variety. And next to this perfectly preserved collection, there is an audio recording of him raving about the German beers he imported, in case you doubted his enthusiasm.
That collage right there shows him entertaining various children, mostly the kids of his sisters and my Mom’s friends. Note that dangling upside down by one foot technique: astute scholars of my father’s life will draw connections with my ability to entertain one- and two-year-olds by tipping them upside down while held in a tight embrace. It turns out, children find it difficult to cry when upside down.
Now we come to the sailboat wing. This one is the first one he owned. I actually saw it once, when Dad recognized it on our favorite lake. But this one is the one he brought everyone out to the lake to sail on during my childhood. I’ve preserved the feeling of the tarp on my fingertips, but luckily he’s the curator here, so he can answer questions about ropes and how to fly a hull.
As the tour guide, I would also be sure to take you on a detailed examination of his physical characteristics, in order to point out where I inherited things like height, teeth, my nose, and slight freckling as a kid.
And as always in a museum, I’ll probably learn something, too. People don’t like to tell stories about dead people being dicks. So how would I know about his prejudices?
If you met him, maybe I wouldn’t have to explain so much. My mere description would not have to stand in for a whole person. And my memories of Elementary school wouldn’t need prefaces. And you would just understand.