Inspired to have pancakes again |

Inspired to have pancakes again

Open Space
Derek Franz
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

I’ve always loved pancakes, but for years I wouldn’t eat them.

On some lucky, snowy mornings in the middle of the week, Dad would rouse me at 6 a.m. to go skiing while the rest of my fourth-grade class went to school. I would spring out of bed, flip on the light and hurriedly slip into long underwear and wool socks. Walking to the other end of the house from my room, I could see the lone kitchen light at the end of a dark hallway. Mom was still sleeping, but I could hear Dad standing over the stove and smell his homemade pancakes.

I would hop onto a bar stool at the counter, sitting in a ball with my legs tucked under me to fend off the chilly drafts of the big house. Then he would turn around and set a plate of steaming cakes in front of me, which I promptly drowned in syrup before wolfing them down in big, smacking bites.

When I finished I gathered the rest of my ski gear while he warmed up the car. He was often waiting on me as I stumbled down the stairs, through the scary, black coldness of the unfinished basement and into the garage, where a pair of headlights stared back at me through the falling snowflakes and open garage door. When I was about 10, Mom sat me down on the front steps one day. I had come home from school, and late afternoon sun warmed the sandstone patio. Wind chimes tinkled in the mountain breeze, but everything seemed to fall away into stillness as she told me about the divorce.

The news was no surprise, but it was a bookmark confirming changes and challenges ahead.

The last clear memory I have of Dad with that house is when he dropped me off after visitation on a snowy Wednesday night. We sat in the idling car, in the driveway, fighting about something trivial.

“F— you, Dad!” I barked as I got out of the car and slammed the door. I felt the words puncture his heart, like a discharged bullet, and I immediately felt empty.

I ran up the steps to the front door, glancing back only once. Even from 50 feet away, his eyes looked big and watery as they followed after me into the night ” bigger than the headlights that stared blankly ahead into the fat, falling snowflakes, and I wondered what I had done.

Fifteen years later, a child’s laughing eyes ” blue and wide ” give only the slightest hint as to what might be inside. The neighbors’ 1-year-old girl giggles as I spin her around in her pink, plastic hotrod. Her little blond-haloed face looks back at me, and I think of all the things she has yet to see. Each of her laughs eases pain of the past, so ’round and ’round we go, weaving through guests holding whiskey and wine glasses. This toe-headed tot wakes my slumbering sense of wonder and makes me hunger to feed some fresh love to the world like a steaming stack of pancakes; it’s time to fire up the griddle and greet the New Day.

Derek Franz wishes everyone a happy New Year. He can be reached at rockgripper8000@

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