Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Siggy

A week before my father died I went to the the Director's office of the Peace Corps in Bangkok. 41 C weather was influencing Bangkok's pollution and the heat radiated off the skyscrapers as I took the back alley way to the PC Headquarters, which was a classic victorian style house hidden behind a 8 foot cement wall on Embassy row.

"I have the feeling I need to go home", I told my Director, a tall lanky man whose helicopter was shot down during the secret war in Laos in the 60s, a man who introduced watermelons to Thailand when he did his service 30 years ago. "Is your Dad sick?" he logically questions. "No, I replied" as tears began streaming down my face. "Is he in the hospital?. is he becoming sick?" he re-questioned me. "My dad has never been sick, he's never been in the hospital" I explained, "But I have this nagging feeling that I need to go home, and I need to do it as soon as possible". "Susi, I'm sorry to say, we can't just send you home based on a feeling" he explained "If you have this feeling, maybe you should call your father and find out if he's ok, if he's not- we can only then make arrangements for an emergency leave."

I walked out of headquarters feeling a bit dramatic. I remember thinking perhaps I have just lost my mind, maybe homesickness has consumed me and negative thoughts are breeding themselves in my noggin.

I spent the following weekend in Chiang Mai with a small group of close friends. We caught up on filling our belly's with the western food from cafe's that American men ran and played pool with mis-measured tables. My heart was still heavy and when my father called, assuring me he was fine and I was overreacting, I just nodded into the telephone.

Four days later my brother called me to say dad was in the hospital. Three hours later my father passed. 6 hours later I was on a plane back to Bangkok from my home in Chiang Rai and 12 hours later I missed my flight home. 20 hours later I was finally en route to Tulsa to my mother and brothers, whom I hadn't seen in 15 months.

My dad had always made his wishes clear about his death. "Cremate me, take me back to Berlin, buy a bottle of some good scotch, sit under a majestic tree and remember me" he would explain to me in his old German/American accent. "If you want me to put you in a place where I remember you..." I joked "Wouldn't a shoebox on top of the toilet suffice? Then I would remember you everyday". A daughter never wants the idea to linger for too long that the rock in her life wouldn't be around one day.

One thing our father passed onto us is the Doring Sentimentality.

Memories of Dad swirl around me as I get on the bus to work, as I walk to pick up my laundry:

Him teaching me to hang upside down on the monkey bars (he did the rings when he was my age). My first tennis racket at age 6, our first A-frame play house, Dad yodeling into the Alps, my permanent seat on his shoulders of his 6"2 frame. Dad and Bryan spending Saturday nights playing chess, him watching the U.S news and calling the reporters Jackass's. Dads excitement in making his spaghetti bolognese, make us bless the food with a german prayer, him doing his ape impression afterwards as our teenage selves rolled our eyes. Him disagreeing with my choice to be a boxer (women shouldn't learn to fight) but then letting me dance around him, shadow sparring him in our living room.

When we moved into our home in Tulsa, Dad bribed Bry and I: "A candy bar for every treehole dug!!" he exclaimed. As we eagerly began our weeks long task. In 1987, we dug at least 18 holes. In 2006, our house in Tulsa is flowing with foliage. I reminisce our debates, of my choice to work in a 3rd world country and his desire for me to find a "real" job..us debating on topics from Neitzsche to the Poles, how much firewood to store, and why I should shop at Sears instead of the GAP.

These memories are permanently floating around me. I do miss my dad this week, I ache for the live role he had in my life- I secretly wish someone else was missing their dad and not me- that he wasn't gone and I could take him for granted.

As the World Cup comes to a grand finale in Berlin this weekend and as the the remaining Doring family packs their bags to meet in Berlin, only the finest scotch will be ordered by Bry and I as we sit under some majestic tree and pretend the celebration is all for him.

1 Comments:

At 7/04/2006 2:20 PM, Anonymous Marni said...

That was beautiful.

 

Post a Comment