He's been dead over three years now.
He was there though, on Friday, in the unlikeliest of places.
Mini-me had been pestering me all morning to take her to get her hair cut. They had the day off of school and the husband had taken Freckles skiing.
Anyway, I finished all the writing I had to do and set out for the day to run errands and get her the haircut she couldn't live without.
We walked in to the shop and put her name on the list, sat in the chairs in the waiting room.
Then he came in the door, this complete stranger that I pretended was my father for a little while.
He was thin, almost gaunt. His Levi's had a dark wash and had been meticulously ironed. They were obviously purchased at a different time when he carried more weight on his frame, held up now only by the thick brown leather belt. The notches each worn down progressively, a tell tale sign of someone withering away.
Trust me, if you've ever watched it happen, you know exactly what I am talking about.
His burgundy shirt draped over his shoulders loosely, tucked in just so. The leather jacket he wore in was hanging on the wall, and he sat beneath it on the other side of the waiting room.
I tried not to stare, but I'm sure that I failed.
His hair had been brown, though the gray had taken over almost completely. He was here because it was long past time for his hair to be cut. It was brushed back straight since it was too long, kept in place with a hefty dose of hair spray.
His skin was weathered, tanned with the lines of time and experience.
His eyes were kind, though I did the best I could to avert mine whenever his rose up towards me.
They called my daughter back and I went with her briefly to tell the stylist what she wanted done. Turned to go back to my seat and smiled at this man, this total stranger, those kind eyes.
I could feel the tears welling up in mine, but I forced them away. Returned to the life of a mother trying to keep a fidgeting five year old still in a crowded room.
When they called his name, this man I don't know, he walked past me just long enough for his scent to move towards me, and that did it.
That was all I could take.
He smelled just like my father.
Aerosol hair spray, Stetson and Brut aftershave.
I drew in a deep breath and allowed myself to pretend for just a moment that he was here again.
Because he was.