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Posts Tagged ‘dad’

Flash fiction: I saw my father today

January 17, 2014 13 comments

I saw my father today. Though two years in the grave, he stared back at me from the mirror as I went through the motions of shaving the stubble from my face. And I wonder if he ever felt as I do today … tired, worn out, hopeless. I lay down my razor, lean forward, and hold myself up on the edge of the counter. I push the lift rod and watch the shaving cream, water, and tiny pieces of beard circle around the sink, eventually winking out of existence down the drain. I pause, wondering if I should even bother to look up, or whether it would be best to simply turn and leave and go about the day, as if nothing has happened.

He’s still there, standing just as I am. Though I’m thirty years younger than he was when he died, my reflection has taken on the years, the myriad lines of age reflecting back at me. I look as old as I feel, and I’m weary. I should leave, but I don’t. We stare at each other, the father and the son. One and the same. Despite every intention, every attempt at making myself something he was not, I am him. I have nothing but questions.

“Why?” I ask.

He looks at me quizzically, puzzled by my simple question. He runs his age spot wrinkled hand through his thinning hair; I notice my hand going through the same motion, though I feel my own hair, still thick and vibrant, not yet having succumbed to the decades to come.

“Why didn’t you tell us, dad? We know nothing. You just left.”

My throat aches as I push the words through my mouth.

He looks away, and I see his face begin to age. What’s left of his hair recedes, brows grow curly and gray, silver stubble adorns his chin. He thins, his features becoming gaunt, like that of the sick and feeble, and he hunches over. His eyes have become sunken and cloudy.

“I don’t know, son. I don’t know. I just thought I’d have more … time.”

I watch my father’s hand rise until, when it’s level with his shoulder, it appears to touch the mirror from the other side. I gaze at the reflection, until finally, I reach out and touch the elderly hand upon the glass. I feel the warmth of his finger tips spread throughout my body, and it’s then I finally grasp the unraveling of his soul, the depth of his pain, his isolation, confusion, and disbelief that life was coming to an end. A small tear forms at the edge of my father’s right eye, eventually sliding down his cheek, until it drips from his face and lands on a counter top somewhere in another world.

“I understand, now,” I whisper.

He smiles, as if relieved. “Love you, son.”

“I love you, too, dad.”

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On anniversaries: pieces that remain

November 30, 2013 18 comments

Pieces from a life

When someone you love passes away, nothing remains except memories and, if you’re lucky, a few sentimental pieces leftover from their life. These items, so ordinary that in other circumstance they’re nothing more than so much clutter, instead help you hold on, however tenuously, to the reality that once was but is no more. Sometimes it feels so easy to fall into that place where you find yourself wondering if it was ever real, or was it all just dream.

A year ago today, on November 30th, 2012, my father passed away. Today I reflect on the bittersweet nature of this anniversary. I’m reminded of the man that I called dad, and the love that I held for him, and the many memories I have of him over the years. Yet I’m also reminded that he is gone: no more phone calls, no more visits, no more e-mails. There is nothing left of the man I knew except a gravestone and a few items that once belonged to him.

Wooden propellers for radio-controlled airplanes, a hobby that he loved. I grew up watching him build his planes in the garage, then take them out and fly them through the sky. I was lucky enough to tag along with him on many of his flying trips, and I remember them vividly to this day.

A pair of his glasses. For as long as I knew him, he had terrible eyesight and wore glasses of some kind or another. And I remember hearing him lament his condition, mostly because he regretted that he couldn’t become a pilot in the military. Instead he had to serve in the Navy.

An old watch, scratched and beat up. I don’t think he really ever cared much about time, or its passing, at least not until toward the end of his life. Then it seemed that time became a precious commodity, and one of which he was quickly running out. I can sympathize with his feelings, as I sit here today wondering just how in the world I ended up where I am today.

Finally, a voice recorder he picked up after his diagnosis. He’d originally intended to use it to document his successful battle with cancer, and then perhaps write a book about his experience. Unfortunately, he never had the chance to use it for that purpose. But he did use it to record a couple of brief messages about how he was feeling during his treatment.

As it turns out, of these items, the recorder is the most precious one I have, because it gives me the one thing I would never have had if it didn’t exist: I can still hear his voice. After weeks and months pass by, it’s so easy for memories to fade, but with this recorder, whenever I feel the need, I can listen to him speak, if only for just a couple of minutes. It doesn’t matter what he’s talking about, it’s just hearing that voice one more time.

Love you, dad, and still missing you …

–dp

Father’s Day – 2013

June 16, 2013 12 comments

For thirty years, father’s day has been a happy day for me. Up until now, it’s been a day to celebrate my father for all that he did for me, and it’s been a day to spend with all, or at least some, of my kids. It’s never really been about receiving or giving gifts as much as it has been all about the giving of time. For my part, I always enjoyed the opportunity to talk with my dad and reminisce, but most of all, the chance to remind him that he was a great father, that I loved him, and that he should be proud of his wonderful legacy.

This year is bitter-sweet, though, because it’s the first year I won’t have the chance to call my dad and wish him a happy father’s day, nor will I have looked for and sent a father’s day card. All I can do this year is sift through my own personal memories, and look at a few old photographs. That will have to do for today and from now on.

As a small tribute to my dad, I recently scanned a number of photographs my mom gave to me and put them together into slideshow. For anyone interested, here’s a three minute glimpse of my father over the years.

Miss you dad …

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