I don't have many memories of my father other than tossing dirt on his casket, but I'll never turn down a Blue Sky soda because of him.
I was so young when my parents got divorced that I hardly knew my father. So the rare moments when he was in town were a treat for me. Those precious, happy moments left me in awe of him. I can still recall his smell on my clothes after a visit like it was yesterday.
He had a side hustle that became our tradition. We would go to the famous New Mexico Hot Air Balloon Festival every year and sell various snacks, like Snickers bars and gummy bears. But none of those compared to the sweet-tasting Blue Sky cream soda he stored away in the well-worn cooler behind his Toyota truck during the festival.
Looking back I can recall that I felt like I made him proud when I sold a Snickers Bar or a pack of gummy bears to one or another jovial hot air balloon aficionados. I wasn't that great of a sales kid, but it wasn't really about the snacks or the transaction. It was about watching him and mimicking his way of being. I feel like that's how I knew him. That's how I remember him.
It's difficult to articulate the feelings of standing with him on those hot days, under the sun, watching my dad as a salesman and a superhero. It felt like he was teaching me how to hit a baseball as every other one of my friend's dads would do.
Other than my memories of climbing over him on my grandmother's brown leather couch, all I have left are those days we spent in the back of his Toyota with the “O” scratched out. That and watching the clumps of Earth falling against his oak casket.
Apparently, it's a Jewish tradition to help bury your loved ones… I'll live with the final moments we spent together forever. But I'll always carry around the memories of the times we spent together in the sun as the shadows of the balloons high above thoughtlessly, gently floated across the plains of New Mexico.
I'll never turn down a Blue Sky soda...