“Did you hear about Hawaii?” my father says.
“What about Hawaii?” I say. I heard all about it last week, but tango on they say.
“Your sisters are taking your old man on a trip!”
“Oh yeah? You’re going to Hawaii with Caroline and Margaret?” They live in New York. Even I admit that it will be nice to see them.
“That’s right I am. My dear Caroline! My lovely Margaret! Oh, my girls.” My dad cut a watermelon at the kitchen table covered in the same waxy plastic tablecloth as when I was a kid. He takes large bites and spits the seeds into the sink.
“Can you believe that?” he says. “Me! In Hawaii! I wish I could tell the old guys in the warehouse about this.”
“That sure is great, pops.” My father has been retired for over a decade.
“Just think, this time next month, I’ll be dancing the hoola with some beautiful Polynesian on my arm!”
“Quite the vision, pops.”
He finishes cutting the watermelon, placing the slices onto a plate and shoves it toward me.
“You want some of this?” The juice dripped down his chin onto his shirt leaving a wet mark so that his nipple almost shows.
“No thanks, pops.”
“Just think, this time next month I’ll be sipping Sangria out of a pineapple as a cup!”
“Sangria is from Spain, pops.”
“Well, make it a Piña Colada then!” he says, getting his coat on. “I’m going to the store. I’m going to get something special for our arrivals.”
I know exactly what he is going to get and I feel like a kid with monsters in his closet.
It is midwinter in Chicago and the cold comes hard. My father though, leaves without his hat and the door open behind him. The kitchen chills quickly. I sit and the let the cold air fill the room like someone trying to prove a point to himself. My sadness is stronger than this cold. I shake it and close the door.
Our parents left our childhood rooms intact. I head upstairs. My sisters still have old baseball posters on the wall. They would listen to the Cubs game on the radio after school, keep stats of every inning, every pitch, and recount it back to my father when he came home. It took them hours. And he listened to every word. I tried to ignore it up in my room, concentrating on schoolwork surrounded by bare walls. My father stopped helping me with my math homework when I hit third grade.
I lie in my bed and my feet come off the end. I used to have a dream here in this bed, a nightmare even. My father would get home with a paper bag under his arm, glowing. He’d call us kids into the kitchen and say that he brought presents for us: three pineapples, one each. My sisters got beautiful ripe pineapples with green tops that pointed sky high. My pineapple was smaller, less plump, and its green top drooped and turned brown at the edges.
I had that dream every night as a kid. It came back again when my mother died and I started coming here every weekend.
And here I am, staring up at the ceiling again, trying to drown out the sound of my sisters’ laughter downstairs, now on a flight over, night in Chicago, pick up a third passenger and off they’ll be.
I wonder what my goodbye will be.
I should have at least gone to the store with him. I grab my jacket and run out the front door, closing it as it locks behind me. I can still catch him. I run down the steps to see my father, half-a-block away on his way back, exposed hands turning blue, extended arms, holding two pineapples up over his head, up toward the sky.