One of my most cherished memories of my father is when he was getting ready for work. Because the family didn’t own a car, he had to take the bus everyday. He got up before 4am every morning. He would make his coffee, eat a chuck of bread and a few thick slices of cheese and this would be his breakfast, which is pretty much what it is today at the age of 79. One morning I heard him moving around. I carefully made my way down the stairs trying not to make the steps creak. I pretended I had to go to the bathroom and when I came out, surprisingly he didn’t shoo me back to bed. He always wanted us away from him, didn’t he? I sat and watched him prepare his lunch and breakfast.
I don’t remember if there was much conversation, very little. He offered me a little bit of coffee or milk and two Pecan Sandies. I picked coffee so I could be just like him, I’d tell him. This was a most special time. We would sit and eat our cookies and then he would send me back to bed. Sometimes I would try to wake up the next morning to be with him and of course to get those cookies. This was our secret and I felt special that he let me be with him from time to time.
Thirty years later the sisters were talking about our favorite cookies. I said, “Pecan Sandies of course. If you put a bag of Pecan Sandies down in front of me they’ll be gone within the hour. I can’t help myself. I had to stop buying them.” Sister After Me surprised said, “I didn’t know you liked them so much. Those are my all time favorite cookie too. Papi used to let me come downstairs when he was going to work?” Middle Sister and Little Sister confirmed the same thing. My sisters are all afflicted with the same condition when presented with a bag of Pecan Sandies, uncontrollable bingeing.
Little Sister said, “Remember the time I cut my foot so badly and Papi had to carry me upstairs every night? I loved it when he carried me. Papi went upstairs one morning and picked me up and brought me downstairs to have cookies with him. I loved him so much at that moment.” A few years later, I spied a bag of Pecan Sandies on my brother’s kitchen table. I asked him if he ever sat with Papi before he went to work and ate Pecan Sandies. Only Brother said, “Of course. I sat with him lots of times before work.”
Although I initially thought that I was the only fortunate one to have shared those quiet mornings with my father, I feel comforted in knowing that each one of us had our turn downstairs with Papi. I cherish those moments and now I know that my siblings share those same strong feelings, similar to mine, but each a beautiful memory belonging uniquely to each one of us. It puts daddy in a whole new light. He seems less alone. He must have realized how much his little girls and boy loved him and wanted to be with him.
I realized that Pecan Sandies was a sacred icon on the desktop of my life. Press the icon and a big picture of my Papi pops into my head.