Just a tree

Sometimes, I will be sitting in Dad’s chair and I will glance out the window and think I see Dad standing there on the front porch, smoking a cigarette.

Of course, in reality, there’s nothing out there but a gently swaying tree.

For most of his years at home, Dad’s smoking routine was a comforting habit, and a chance for some quiet time and reflection. He would pace back and forth, maybe spotting a few deer wandering around and waving to a neighbor driving by the house. There would be the obligatory hoarse smoker’s cough, along with what sounded like Dad was clearing gravel out of his throat.

As the dementia took hold, I wonder if his vice gave him as much satisfaction, or if he began to look around at a world that did not seem familiar to him. I remember my last few visits home when Dad still lived there, I would listen closely when the front door opened and Dad let out his smoker’s cough. I would peek from my bedroom window to make sure he was still there and had not wandered away.

I think I will forever see his ghost pacing back and forth out there, a trail of smoke lingering behind him.

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