Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Father

Today is the anniversary of my father’s death. He died on December 18, 1973. I celebrated my 20th birthday a couple of weeks later.

I remember my mom calling me on the phone to tell me he had died. It was quite unexpected. When I answered the phone, my mom said, “This is your mother.” That was unusual, and I laughed, saying, “Yeah, I know that.” But she said it, I guess, to make sure that I knew it was her, since she had such bad news to share. I didn’t take it well.

I don’t think about him all that much, really…sad to say. On this same date next year, I’ll be just about to turn 60, and that will mean that my dad has been dead for two-thirds of my life.

So much “life” has happened since he died. He died young: 45 years old. Heart attack. He saw two of his daughters marry, but he didn’t live to see the divorces that followed, and then the re-marriages… He died before any grandchildren had made their appearance.  Sometimes I think it’s good he missed some of my shenanigans…

I used to think that he must be spending a long time in purgatory because he was the one who led us away from our church. He was disgruntled with church administration, and vowed never to go back, saying it was a “business”, and he didn’t want any part of it. I was about 7 years old at the time.

Nowadays, I don’t think about that as much as the fact that he wasn’t Catholic. The church he led us out of was the Episcopal Church. So maybe that wasn’t so bad. But he wasn’t Catholic…

Apart from that, I don’t know much about his spiritual life. Check that…I don’t know anything about his spiritual life. We never talked about “religion”; I don’t recall him ever saying anything about trusting God, or having faith, or anything like that. There must have been something there for him, though. He cared enough to leave a church that he saw as mercenary rather than spiritual.

He wasn’t a very relaxed kind of dad…but I do have some fond memories of going fishing with him. And when I left home to go to college, he wrote me some letters that revealed more of him than I’d ever seen before, and I was starting to develop a new, adult relationship with him. I wish I still had the letters…

Well, as I said, I don’t think of him often or much, really. But I think of him on this day every year, and I just wanted to acknowledge him. He was a good dad who worked hard and took life just a little too seriously.
May he rest in peace.

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