“It’s sad being there without Grampa. I miss him.” Grace whispered.
“I miss him, too.”
We were heading home after spending the day at my Mom’s celebrating Christmas with my brothers, sister and all my nieces and nephews. We hadn’t gathered together at my Mom’s for Christmas since my Dad passed away in 2019.
Standard protocol for any family gathering is pictures. So before two of my nephews headed out, I ever so gently ordered everyone to gather around my Mom for a picture. My Mom sat in one of the two shaker rockers that my Dad had designed, crafted and made with his own hands in his basement workshop.
Earlier in the day, she had booted Billy right out of that chair, “That’s mine!” she laughed, motioning to Billy to get up. “That’s the Queen’s chair!” my brother informed him. Billy promptly stood, rising as if he’d sat on a tack. All the grands gathered around our Queen. “Quick! Everyone get it in!” I ordered. One by one, some more reluctant than others, the entire family gathered around our Queen, including my nephew Zach via Face-time. John, my sister’s boyfriend snapped the first few. I hopped out, he hopped in and snapped the rest. No one likes a prolonged photo shoot, so we snap, snap, snapped, quickly scanned the snaps, and dispersed from around our Queen.
Later that night, I relived the day and scrolled through the pics, stopping periodically, appreciating the images and the people in them. When the multiple pictures of the wole gang appeared, I stopped. I lingered a bit longer on an image I caught as well as an image John caught. I lingered, my eyes drawn to the unoccupied shaker rocker. I smiled. It was then I knew, that my Dad was still with us. He always is.
The chair may have been empty, but he was there. What my eyes did not see, my heart and soul knew.