It's not like he was a bad father. But there was a disconnect that Amy and I could never mend. Had little to do with us, and more to do with his parents.
But we could always count on a meal bridging the gap. Dad loved to eat. Food delivered pure enjoyment to his being. Mealtimes brought us together, and sharing a favorite food connected us to him.
At the height of my troubled teenage years, when Amy was out every weekend with friends, or her boyfriend, or both, Dad knew I was upset and sad wondering why I didn't have friends and a boyfriend like her. I look back now and realize that he couldn't talk about my feelings or help me with feelings because of his upbringing. But what he could try to do was bring happiness to me by saying, "Let's go get some din din."
Because food brought joy to him, and therefore, food could make his youngest happy. It would fill the pit left by teenage self doubt.
Funny how grief hits. Been almost three years since Dad passed. For the last few months, as we sit down to eat, I hear my Dad say, "It's din din time." Or when we go out for dinner, I recall how he'd walk through the kitchen door, calling up to Amy and I, "Let's go get some din din!"
All his gruffness, and grumpiness, and lecturing, and hard to talk to on the phone, and crankiness are memories pushed back as I remember the things that brought Dad happiness. A respite for a brief moment, but peace nonetheless.
Dad, I've been missing you a lot lately. I know you're having some din din. Have some for me too.