The best gift my dad ever gave me was teaching me to tie a half Windsor, but I couldn't have known it at the time.
"Mom, do you know how to tie a tie?"
I stopped in the doorway and time stood still.
I heard my dad's voice. "Let me teach you how to tie a tie."
I stepped into the room where my son stood and said: "Let me tell you the story of how I know how to do this."
I adjusted the tie around his collar. "This is the half Windsor knot. " Start with the wide end of the tie on your right and extending a foot before the narrow end.
"I was just your age and I was getting ready for church on a Sunday morning. As I passed my parents' bedroom my dad said 'Hey come here a minute."
"I'm trying to get ready!"
"I know but I want to show you how to tie a tie."
Cross the wide end over narrow and turn back underneath.
I said "I'm a girl. Why do I need to know how to tie a tie?"
Bring it up and turn it down through the loop, Pass the wide in from the front, from the left and to the right.
"Because someday you are going to have a son and you will need to teach him how."
"Won't my husband do that?"
"What if he isn't around for some reason?"
Then, end up through the loop, and put it down through the knot in the front, tighten the knot carefully and draw it up to the collar.
"And here we are. I know how to help you because my dad imagined a moment just like this."
"Wow. You never told me that."
I realized I had forgotten it completely until this evening. How like my father to teach me something I'd need long after he was gone. Teaching someone something is a way of reaching into the future.
I straightened my son's tie and stood back to notice how tall he had gotten the year before. How much like his grandfather he looked. I tamped down emotion and smoothed over freshly unearthed pain.
I smiled at the son I'm so proud of and wished my dad was here to see this moment. My son is so like him in looks and personality. They would have loved each other so. I hate that they missed each other in time.
"Thanks, Dad," I whispered to myself as I left the room. I silently marveled at what had just happened. Through whatever means; premonition, fatherly foresight, dumb luck...my father had managed to show up just at the moment I needed him and be part of a special event for his grandson.
Thanks again, Dad.