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For my father

His is the first hand I can remember holding
Big and warm, his chicken drumstick thumb and flat, wide nails.
His grip was always tight.
When we we're kids we had a code, a phrase unspoken, instead its syllables squeezed out like morse code.
Four squeezes - Do. You. Love. Me?
Three squeezes - Yes. I. Do.
Two squeezes - How. Much?
He would grip my hand so tightly it would turn my fingers blue.
I might have my mothers hands but at my fingertips you'll find his flat, wide fingernails.
His little half moon lunula is the same shape as mine.

His is the voice that ended every day.
We would kiss our mother goodnight and take ourselves to bed
but keep the door open for him, wait quietly in the dark for his shadow to appeared in the hallway light.
Wriggle to the cold side of the bed so he could sit on the edge.
Recount the day, fill the darkness with tales of primary school playground politics and high school dramas. Blankets tucked tight, kisses goodnight.
On the nights he was on the road he would call, like it never occurred to him that he couldn't put us to bed from five hundred miles away.
Theres not a day of my youth I can recall ending without him.

And he is in so many little things
The smell of tomatoes always remind me of him.
The way he would run around in the twilight with a watering can, our family waiting impatiently in the car because he couldn't bear to not water the garden before we go.
He is still the first person I think of when I hear someone making coffee in the morning
because every day of my childhood began with him making the same sound.

I guess its the little things that make you realise you know someone well.
I know the particular way he tucks a tea towel into his apron
the way his eyes crinkle at the corners when he smiles and the lines he gets on his forehead when he's concentrating. I know the way his steps sound, know the way he sneezes like he's cheering for a sports team and the way he growls under his breath when he's frustrated.
I know the way his hug feels; know the way his arms feel when they wrap around me and the way his strange bottom ribs dig into my sides.
I know the way he laughs when he truly laughs; it makes me giggle just thinking about it.
I know the way his chest puffs up when he talks about our achievements and the way he rolls his eyes when he thinks something is ridiculous.
I know the way he sounds when cleans his teeth and spits in the bathroom but I also know the way he sounds when he picks up the phone, they way he always calls me baby.

And he is the only nurse we ever needed, the loudest whistle at graduation, the first one to spot a grammatical error and the best person to go to the museum with.
He's the first person I want to describe a dish to, the first person to text when I need a recipe recommendation, the first person who showed us that love could be made edible.

Its in the little things that I realise I am like him.
In the way I hear myself talking to the waitress like she might be a long lost friend
And the way my eyes know to look for silver linings because his taught me how.
Its in the way I know how to take pride in my work and in how I know to always make extra room at the dinner table.
And I can see it in my siblings, the ways in which we each have pieces of him.
How my brother speaks with that similar mix of personal conviction and wit and how my sister has his determination but also inherited the way to tell a story with every detail kept in.
We inherited his smile, the three of us. Copies of his canine teeth make us look alike.

But more that that we have him.
Our father.
The tight hand that holds, the deep voice in the dark, the champion of our childhood.

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You made it to the end! Thank you for reading. 
This one is for my dad. No doubt he will message me about the spelling mistakes but I love him.

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