Moments We Treasured
Weekends were eagerly anticipated! Dad would be free of work responsibilities and home for the weekend. We would celebrate Saturdays at home with dad! At 8 o’clock, every Saturday morning, the smell from the kitchen would waft through the hallway, greeting my sister and me, as we slowly woke up. In the kitchen, the frying pan would be quietly spitting and sizzling on the stove top. My sister and I would be lured from our beds. Tousled hair and housecoats fastened, we would scoot down the hall to the kitchen. It was Saturday and we were about to be treated like royalty. Breakfast was British style, fried kippers, bacon strips, and eggs. Toast would be popping up from the toaster. Inspecting the toast we would turn up our noses, declining the pieces that were ever so slightly burnt around the edges. “Puts hair on your chest,” Dad would tease. We would roll our eyes and giggle. We didn’t want that to happen to us! Accepting a few rashers of bacon, refusing the kippers, my sister and I would feast. HP Sauce, fit for HRH graced the table and we would squirt it all over the eggs and bacon. The table would be neatly set. My father had a discerning eye for detail and presentation; he would place all the necessary utensils and accompaniments at the ready, waiting for our small hands. Syrup would be decanted into a small pitcher. Freshly squeezed orange juice would be poured into two small glasses, waiting for us to sip the sweetness. In a separate frying pan dad would be warming pancakes. On Saturday mornings dad would indulge his girls. “What shall I make today?” he would ask. We would beg for animal pancakes and giggle with delight as dad created cat and dog style shapes to please us. There was never an animal or word that dad couldn’t create out of batter in a frying pan. We delighted in our father’s attention and loving actions. Expected to sit quietly at the table, place a napkin on our lap, and use our best manners throughout breakfast, was the first rule of the morning. We would never dare to break it, not out of fear of punishment, out of respect and love for our dad. It would never have occurred to us to defy or disappoint him. We wanted to live up to his expectations for us. I craved this time with Dad, feeling safe and loved. Our two Siamese cats, stealthy Kemo and the over-weight Sheba, would slip in and out from under the table, hoping for a scrap or two, madly mewing, intoxicated by the scent of kippers. After finishing our meal, my father would have us clear the table, scrape the dishes clean, and ready them for the sink. Dad was obsessive about cleanliness and he would scour the kitchen. On Saturday mornings, the windows would be open, year round, as dad cleaned and shined the counters, glass panes, and oven. We were each given jobs to do. Dad expected that we would act responsibly and complete our chores. Once completed, we would plan the day’s outing. Even as we aged, my father continued to make his special Saturday morning breakfast. I knew that dad had left for good, when these special moments ended. I would fill my weekends with other plans, however, on the occasion that I sat alone in the kitchen on Saturday mornings, I would imagine him there. Many years later, my sister would comment that this was one of the saddest times for her as well. Dad just stopped coming home, not all at once, bit by bit, he left. Sometimes, my sister and I would smell breakfast cooking and know that dad had returned, most times, the kitchen remained silent and still, awaiting his presence.