In his light blue and white trimmed terrycloth bathrobe, my dad would slice an onion while standing in front of the toaster.
His bagel, always cut in thirds, was sentenced to incinerate for all of eternity in the toaster until it could pass for the charred remains of a house fire.
And he didn’t just slice the onions mindlessly like some haphazard short order cook in a roadside diner daydreaming about women and better days to come. Just the opposite. He handled the kitchen knife with precision and purpose reminiscent of Toshiro Mifune in Korosawa’s “Seven Samurai”.
I’d have Dave Brubeck’s “Time Out” playing for him on the stereo. He’d always smile from it. Maybe because it reminded him of his younger days. But that’s not true at all. My dad didn’t self reflect like that. He was just simply happy in that moment with his Brubeck and his breakfast.
It’s the same album I’m listening to now as I sit here wide open to these memories. And it’s the same album I’d play for him years later as he lay there dying in the hospice as if it would somehow defibrillate him back to consciousness.
With that said, there are tears in my eyes now like there used to be from watching him cut onions as a kid.
I didn’t know back then why I used to be so transfixed on him preparing his food but I do know why now. It was in order to have something to hold on to when I had nothing left.
But I have to ask, is there a purpose to all of these words?
I guess we won’t know until we know. What seems insignificant today might be the most significant tomorrow. The meaning of things change as time passes or we pass through it.
Onions can become omens.