“Have you ever been to Epcot before,” the kind stroller attendant was attempting to fill in the silence as I stood one toddler per arm and one now so obviously on the way.
I stared off across the fountain that erupted in front of the giant silver ball, and an image of my father cradling me in his lap as we posed for a picture suddenly became so real. So real, that for the first time in nearly 20 years the memory of him was revivified so that I could actually feel his arms embracing my shoulders, and as I took a deep breath to basque in this moment I could almost smell him. I don’t know how long I was quiet, or how long the attendant had stood with an empty stroller as I must have gazed into space, but he waited patiently through my trance which was broken as Mr. R so innocently paced through my line of sight on a work call. I looked over to the attendant again, “It’s been almost 25 years.”
“So much has changed since then,” he declared, as if I hadn’t missed a beat.
There was a mixture of emotions that first revisit to Epcot. First and foremost there was nothing changed about Epcot, from Michael Jackson to the technology of the “future” that was now transformed into the retro-vision of the future; everything stood exactly as it was. But despite my disappointment in the dated displays I was happy because Dad popped up, breathing life around every corner. I felt dad in the aquarium, I felt him sitting beside me on The Land and on Spaceship Earth. I felt as if he was able to miraculously spend time with his grandchildren, and his presence brought me a completion that had been missing in my heart since childhood.
I have been to Epcot many times since then, I used to talk about Daddy allot when we went, and though no one complained I did grow conscious that it was perhaps growing old so I began to pace myself, until I just didn’t anymore. Over time muffling my stories had in someway also muffled his spirit, and just like that Houston Rockets back to back championship tee that lost his scent when I was 12 and the essence of the blanket he used when gaming on the couch had faded only a short month after he was gone, Epcot no longer rectified his spirit. The magic was long since gone and forgotten and I began to explain away that perhaps it wasn’t Dad so much as it was the fresh tactile memories we shared together.
This past summer my Uncle visited Disney World for the first time ever with his daughter while Grandmother spent a week with us. At the conclusion of their excursions they stopped by to pick up Grandmother and deliver gifts of chocolates and other sweet treats they had scavenged on their journey. There was no hesitation, no words spoken, no questions asked before my Uncle blurted it, “Jess your Dad is at Epcot, he is there!” I stopped short, I had not told him before of the nostalgic sensations that had once lingered around every walkway from his older brother, but yet here he was detailing the exact sensations I had once felt before accidentally shutting them out.
His energy is there for some reason, I am confident of it, though that sensation is not nearly as strong for me as it once was. This year Mr. R threw an elaborate yet intimate dinner amongst family and the few Florida friends we had made to this point for my 32nd birthday in France, and then a large family Christmas gathering in Italy. For Lil’ A’s birthday we ate dinner where my parents and I ate decades ago along the stream of the boat ride in Mexico and I like to think that for the first time in decades Dad was able to be a part of all the family fun and festivities.