Life’s like a movie, write your own ending, keep believing, keep pretending… no other way to be. Kermit had that right at least. You just sort of have to keep plugging along.
I moved the portion of the Journal today that dealt with my father’s death. Well… “dealt with”. “Mentioned” really. I feel sort of bad that I didn’t give him proper time and memorial back in 2005, but I was in the midst of it. Parsing. As I’ve been moving things over I could see the context of what I was writing back then. Talking about “what people are asking for under the influence of x, y or z” I was very much talking about how my father was asking for water that I couldn’t give him, death that I couldn’t give him… things that I couldn’t give him. It was a horrible stretch of time, and at the time it couldn’t go by fast enough and in hindsight I’m slightly horrified by how swiftly we were back on the road.
[note to all, I’m not proofreading this any further because I can’t afford to re-read it – I’m hosting Teavolve in a couple of hours and need to get out of this mindspace!]
Of course, that’s the thing about cancer. You get lots of warning. By the time it’s over, you’ve had a LOT of warning. You just want it to be over. It’s perhaps one of the guiltiest familial deaths… not because you think there’s something you could’ve done, but because by the time death finally comes around everyone is waiting for it, eager for it.
I hate myself for saying it, but I don’t think I’m ashamed of saying it now… over the years plenty of friends and families and articles have told me that all of the above is normal, par for the course… including the self-hatred.
I think about my father an awful lot. There are certain combinations of clothing (t-shirt and briefs) that give me flashbacks to him. There’s three specific t-shirts (one is his old Dune shirt, the other two are yellow shirts LIKE the Dune shirt that make me think I’ve picked up the Dune shirt)… photographs, moments, noises, places… certain cars. Whenever something is just COOL in the tech world I wish I could pick up the phone and tell him about it.
Hell, the number of times I’ve done something mundane on my cellphone and thought “my Dad would’ve thought that was amazing” is at LEAST once or twice a day every day of my Life since April of 2005. I’ve got an app that lets me know when the ISS goes overhead. It happens several times a day. That makes me think of him.
I just had some food that I don’t think he would’ve liked with a woman that I think he would’ve enjoyed. I’m married to a woman he never met who I think he would’ve really Loved and I saw a horrible photograph of a bottomed-out Austin Healey that he would’ve hated.
My father was complicated. I mean – we’re all complicated – and that’s complicated even further by our relationships – but there were so many weird depths to my dad that I never really got until later. The guy who showed up at his wake to say “oh yeah, we took these crazy road trips across the country, didn’t you know about those?” The photographs of him meeting random Slavic people while hunting through old churches for relatives… the obsession with that bizarre safari hat…. I don’t think I’d ever appreciated how much he was like Rowan. They are both very detail-oriented, very interested in minutiae. As Rowan has grown into himself, I’m sorry that he and my Dad hadn’t had more time to discuss esoterica about lasers and logic.
I’m sad my Dad never got to meet my brother’s kids. He would’ve found them loud and frustrating, but he’d have gotten to see his grandkids.
He probably would NOT have let me sell my banjo. He probably would’ve pushed me to diversify my stocks which would be unfortunate at the moment. He would’ve been horrified by politics, but he already was.
For those of you who don’t know, he was an optical physicist at NASA. He went to Penn State. He was intensely moral and intensely displeased with a world that didn’t reflect that – and was pretty unhappy when his KIDS didn’t reflect it. I don’t think he knew what to make of art, but he really liked music and he was an uncomfortable combination of blue state country boy that I’m only now beginning to really come to terms with. He liked well water and spring water but not tap water and though we never talked much about women, it turns out we probably could’ve because as weird as it is to say, apparently our tastes were pretty similar.
He was a stabilizer – and I never knew about the weird spin-away parts of him. He was a good balance of parent vs friend, which was probably the best thing he could’ve been to me growing up. Kids don’t need more friends most of the time. They need really, really good parents. And he was that. We could’ve been good friends today.
But yeah, he wouldn’t have liked what we had for lunch.