I was young enough to sit up on his shoulders in the frigid outdoor celebration. The sea of enthusiastic people was overwhelming to me from this point of view. My relatives kept shouting at me to notice each of the HUGE characters floating by, but all I could think about was the icy wind that was ripping through my winter jacket, as well as my skin and settling deep into my very bones. I began to wimper and an exceptionally kind, older woman, who was smooshed against us, offered me some hot chocolate in response to my father’s angry reaction to my tears. “My mother would never let me drink out of a stranger’s thermos,” I thought as I drank down the burning sweetness, enjoying it even more with my awareness of her disapproval. The relief was fleeting, so when I began to cry once again, my angel lady began to pour more cocoa for me only to have my father bark, “NO! No More!” at me, and then, with a change in tone, “Thank you, no more,” to my angel lady, who tried to explain it was no problem and she could see how cold I was. She didn’t know my father, but I did, so I wasn’t surprised when he got snippy with her and made everyone uncomfortable.
The only other part of that day I remember vividly was that we piled into the car before heading to the parade, my father, uncle and several cousins. As we traveled, I began asking what their last names were. I may have been in kindergarten and just becoming aware of last names because I recall a feeling of pride at knowing what mine was and thinking, perhaps, someone else in the car may not be as sophisticated as I was in this knowledge, though I was the youngest. The first several people I asked had the same last name as I did and then I asked my father’s sister’s son what his was and he replied with a different last name. I was a bit taken aback and responded innocently with something about him not being part of the family. My cousin laughed, but my father, obviously embarrassed, shot back something about how he was probably more a part of the family than I was.
I don’t miss the cold weather of Michigan even a little bit, and I never, in all of my 40 years of living there became comfortable with it.
My father has since asked me to remove my maiden name from my fb account and to never contact him, again.
I’m not a big fan of parades.
But I really love hot cocoa.