Losing your dad brings on a wave of nostalgia for which I was not prepared.
Since the memorial events took place in and around the playground of my youth, I found a need to drive the old familiar streets, peering through the windows of an innocent time that can never be recaptured.
I drove by my old house, the one I spent years 5 through 17 in. Those were precious times. It looked the same, a little older, a little smaller than I had remembered. The yard looked cluttered. I felt compelled to clear the twigs and rake the leaves in the front, something I always did for dad.
I drove by my elementary school, looking at the field of grass where I learned how to swing a bat and throw a baseball. The school looked almost exactly the same, except for the addition of a chain-link fence.
I drove by the old swimming hole, where we spent endless summer days swinging on a rope and releasing our prepubescent bodies into the muddy creek.
I drove by my junior high school, where I survived those turbulent years of 13 through 15.
I ordered a few slices of pizza in the place where my brother and I hung out on Friday nights when my parents went out to dinner. The name has changed but the tiny tables and dingy floor looked the same.
Our hotel room looked out over the old Caldor, where I worked in the hardware department at one of my first jobs. It's no longer a Caldor, but the parking lot is the same. I could see myself pulling up in dad's '70 Chevy station wagon, feeling the pride and independence of carrying a driver's permit.
I drove by the hill where we froze the tips of our fingers and toes, sleigh riding, anticipating the coming of Christmas Eve, when my family would sit around the Christmas tree and open presents.
Everything seemed smaller. And everything seemed untouchable.
The '60s and '70s were such a special time, yet those days are so long ago, so removed.
And my dad played such a key part in all of this.
You really can't go home again.
But when you lose your dad, the nostalgia sweeps in like a wave.
And kind of sad.