We are on a train north to Toledo, the chosen home of the artist, El Greco. Leaving the vibrancy of southern Spain’s Andulucia, we travel toward the land of Cervantes’ famous Don Quixote, a landscape now peppered with stainless steel windmills. I love the easy sway of the train, its clattering sounds on the track. Out the window, I can see mountains rising in the distance.
I find myself reflecting on our last weekend on the southern coast. I was mesmerized by the gorgeous seaside Roman ruins in Bolonia and awestruck to gaze on Morocco across the Strait of Gibraltar. In Tarifa, where Africa and Europe once touched, there is a jetty that marks the meeting of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Walking back through Tarifa’s white washed citiscape, I saw, on a moorish facade, a sign for “Tex-Mex Burgers.” Spanish Tex-Mex? I thought, I should call my father.
My father was a Texan through and through – a tall man who told tall tales. And, he loved all things Tex-Mex. We used to love sharing cheese enchiladas at “El Fenix” in Dallas. He passed away six months ago in my sister’s home under her loving care. The urge to reach out to him was so visceral, to share with him that there is a Tex-Mex burger joint in Andalucia! He would have gotten such a kick out of it. But it quickly hit me that he was not there to receive my call.
The jolt of sorrow that so many of us experience upon re-remembering our loved one’s death can feel fresh. The love – from me to my father, from him to me – is imprinted within me. As I sit here on the train, the missing, the longing to pick up the phone is solid in my chest. Staring out at the setting sun, blinking back a tear, I whisper, “Hey dad, I saw Tex-Mex in Spain and thought of you.” I’d like to believe that he can hear me.