Stephenville Empire-Tribune, June 2018
It is early, the sun barely rising above the rooftops of cookie-cutter homes in our Clearwater, Florida subdivision when I detect a noise coming from the kitchen and crack my bedroom door a sliver. Peeking out, my eyeballs rotate first left then right, trying to locate the source of the sound. I spy a shadowy figure…stealthy…opening a cabinet and then the refrigerator. The refrigerator interior beams bright, a stooped back with an arm reaching inside—almost visible, but then the door whispers shut as the figure begins a slow pirouette his face searching. Searching...
I close the door slightly as my brain begins to formulate a plan of attack aimed at the intruder. Cracking the door a hair wider, silently I tiptoe, barefooted on a mission. I freeze backing against a bare wall and then, dropping into an offensive stance, advance forward one tiny footstep at a time—baby steps now. Noiseless and empty, the living room seems endless, the kitchen miles away.
The intruder sensing a presence somewhere behind him, gently sets the object of his covert morning mission on the counter and whirls 180 degrees, hands raised in defense of the attack that he intuitively knows is coming.
Standing upright now and breaking the deafening silence with a “Keeeeeeeyaaaa,” I construct a series of “super slow-mo” Karate moves as I kick and spin at a snail-like pace toward the intruder...my dad, innocently fixing his daily breakfast, a bowl of Shredded Wheat Cereal with honey and milk.
He instantly counters with a series of defensive moves protective of the bowl—one hand guards as the other, in equal “slow-mo” fashion, lifts to block the clenched knife-like hand headed toward his unprotected shoulder.
“Keeeeeyaaa,” his voice answers, matching my own, as my hand finds purchase on his raised forearm. Dad grimaces and fakes a pitch backward into the kitchen counter, his hand still hovering above the precious now soggy wheat cereal.
We look at each other laughing. “Karate Chop!” we say simultaneously. He picks up the cereal and moves—at regular speed now—to the lonely dinette set, sits and raises the milk laden spoon toward his smiling mouth.
My father, now 85 years old and living a five-hour drive away, always comes to mind in a particularly fond way every June. June...the month we celebrate our Dads, remembering a special moment we shared. Just the two of us being silly.
(*Update: My father passed away on October 7, 2018, four months after this story was published. Read the story "Sing that Song" for more details.)
By Lisa H. Owens