It was usually on Saturday mornings, at our house growing up, when Mom was doing laundry, that she would put a large, wicker basket in the middle of the living, unattended for hours. (There were seven of us living in the house and I can only imagine now what the laundry would escalate to by Saturday morning.) To everyone else in the house, the basket was just simple: a sign that Mom was doing the laundry on Saturday morning. But to Brittany and I that basket was an invitation. And we would lie on the ground watching Saturday morning cartoons waiting for the games to begin. Because we knew the possibilities that the basket could offer as long as the right person walked through the kitchen.
Regardless of how many piles she would make around us and the wicker basket, we never felt her angst about the job. We were too preoccupied by anxious gaiety. By Dad. By Dad and that wicker laundry basket. Together, he would scoop me and my sister up from our positions on the floor and toss us into the basket. Then singing a little song, he would rattle us here and shake us there. Inside the basket it was hot and dark. I would feel my sisters breath on me as we screeched “stop, stop” and heard our pleas echoed back to us from the doom basket top. We had no idea which direction the basket was going next and together we would roll around like clothes in the washing machine. “Spin cycle” Dad would yell, sending us around and around in centrifical motion against the sides of the basket. And eventually, after all the washing cycles had been completed, he would take us out, lay us out and hang us out to dry, over the edge of the couch or his shoulder. And we would laugh, “stop, stop” but we didn’t mean it. Because as soon as the clothes were dry, the game was over and we never wanted the game to be over.Over time, we grew and the basket became too small to hold us. But the game for us has never ended. Each time I go home, I find myself looking at my Dad and remembering him as he was to me when I was young. He has a nostalgic smile behind his beard and as I watch him play with my nieces and nephew I am overcome by how much joy and life he brings to a room, to a person, to our family. His energy consumes situations and defines who he is. I am proud that he is my Dad. I am comforted to hear his voice when I call and ask him random questions. I am growing to know him more. I seek his jokes in stressful situations. I remember his physical strength when I am running. I feel his ease when chaos surrounds me. I smile when he makes connections with Sean. I make his same stupid jokes. I hear his voice as I sing while I cook. I love him, everyday, because he allowed me to be myself when I was growing up. He never questioned or criticized. He always made me feel like I was enough. He allowed me to play the game of childhood without worry or disappointment. How much that gift has formed me to who I am today. How grateful I am to call him Dad. Happy Father’s Day, Poppy Wayne.