You're What I Love about Fall

It’s been a long time without you,

This leaf burning season is always so hard,

I have so many memories I want to relive

But I won’t hold back or leave my heart guarded.

When you said that, at first, I didn’t know what it meant,

But death changes things…

Still fall is my favorite season,

The experiences, the feelings, the joy that it brings.

 

Ah, that last hug you gave me before my first day of school

When I was panicking and crying, “Daddy, please don’t make me go.”

I thought I couldn’t survive spending that much time without you,

First autumn memory together, right there, watching the leaves blow.

Children screaming on the playground when it’s time to go home

Playing pretend, lava monster, tether ball, you name it,

You were right about school, how I’d have so much fun that I wouldn’t want to go,

Stomping my foot and whining, “Daddy, please just five more minutes?”

 

I remember the sunshine blaring through the window

In fresh cold air, at 6 in the morning as I woke with fake coughs,

To your song, “get up, get out of bed,

You’re not sick, time for school, now get off!”

I miss the way you’d get angry at dinner,

How you stood there counting and tapping your foot

As I deviously giggled while playing hide-‘n-seek in the woods.

To my frustration, I always got caught, ‘cause I surely couldn’t stay put.

 

I had to pick the perfect pumpkin, you would carry it home

“Daddy, don’t forget to save the seeds, for mommy’s brand new recipe,”

Then it was time to lay my head by the crooked-faced jack-o-lantern

And we both would laugh uncontrollably as you shouted, “say cheese!”

That October was when you first taught me

How a slinky goes down the stairs,

When I chased the hummingbirds to their new southern homes

And we’d wish them the best with our prayers.

 

I miss tossing a football to myself on the sidelines

As you’d beg me to stay out of the way

I know, daddy, I’m not allowed to go past the thick white line

I’d get stepped on by monster players, ‘cause football is not like ballet.

I admired your passion for the game and the kids

You taught us all to be strong but humble

But I still got jealous of all the attention you gave them—

Look at me! Daddy’s little girl doesn’t care about the stupid fumble!

 

But even though coaching occupied so much of your life

You’d always make it in time for each kickoff of my soccer games

I’d look to the sidelines for your approval

As if sharing your waves and whistles and shouts would lead me to my fame.

When I scored my first goal in the pouring rain, I just couldn’t wait to hear

“You’re a tough girl, not afraid of slipping in the mud,

Sweetie, I’m so proud of you,”

That was the game you taught me there’s no harm in a bit of blood.

 

Oh! Remember those times when my best friend and I,

We’d Jacuzzi together and you would pat us down dry?

You’d wrap us in towels like princess’ dresses

Or rock stars singing into hairbrushes, unshy.

My first school play, first recital, first concert,

You videotaped me dictate the stage, remember?

My big smile, you said, is a decision to wear,

Joyful is a choice, it doesn’t have to wait ‘til December.

 

I still have that Tamagotchi you gave me

But it’s sick ‘cause I left it alone in my closet

I have a boyfriend now, Cristian, so I really don’t have time

For baking cookies or fishing with your old, ripped net

But I still go to Pie Night on Wednesdays

Guess what? Tiramisu is Cris’ favorite too!

He helped me learn how to parallel park

‘Cause we all know, it was never my strong suit.

 

Lots of girls are self-conscious these days

I admit, it’s hard not to be, it must come with age,

You’d always tell me I’m beautiful, I surely believed it then,

I still try to because I know that the world is not always a stage.

When I’m cozied up in my sweats and no makeup

I insightfully ask who I’m really trying to impress,

I mean, sure I’ll dress up for my job interview

But I don’t want to be “popular” for my cute floral dress.

 

When I look in the street puddles I always see you

And I hope things are nice on the outside.

Please take care of my puppy and fishy,

I was devastated when they died.

Now I’ll splash in these puddles so I don’t look behind

And dry my clothes by the fire; however,

I’ll still think about you, I promise, as you know

I just can’t be a crier forever.

 

I wish you could see me graduate

And grow old, but most of all,

I love you—

Dad…

I mean that.

And you’re what I love about fall.

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