Dad Looking Back at Me

By: Tanya Ward Goodman

I was at the eye doctor recently and my ophthalmologist asked me if my father was still alive. I was sitting in the dark, my chin on a cold metal shelf, staring wide as she aimed a bright light into my eye.

“He died,” I said.

I wondered if tears would cloud her search for cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. I wondered if she could tell I was going to cry before the tear actually dripped down my cheek.

“I lost my dad five years ago,” she said. “It’s hard to lose a dad.”

I explained that it’s been ten years, but it still feels fresh.

“Girls and their fathers,” she said. She’s got such a calm air about her. I like her low voice and her grey braids. I like the way she talks about my eyes as though they are good shoes – well made, but aging. She’s the kind of person I could tell my secrets to.

On the computer screen, she shows me the inside of my eye. She traces blood vessels and the clean line that means there is no degeneration. The image on the screen does not look like an eye. It looks like the surface of the moon – grey and pebbled. Another view looks like a road driven at night, bright spots illuminated by headlights for only an instant.

My eyes were washed clean with tears when my father died. My eyes get a regular bath when my children do well in school, when I read a poem, when I hear a sad story on the radio. I cry easily. It cannot be helped.

My dad’s eyes were the same color as mine. They squint at the sun the way his did and seep tears when I laugh hard. My dad looked at the world and saw beauty in everything. He saw possibility for art in the lowliest of objects. When I looked into his eyes, I saw love reflected back.

It’s June and the newspaper advertisements shout about Father’s Day. I will celebrate my husband on this day for he is a wonderful father and deserves more than just one day of parades and pancakes. Today, on a day that is not labeled “Father’s Day,” I will think of my dad and I will send him love. I will look in the mirror and imagine I can see him looking back through my eyes.

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