I lost my Dad many years ago. So long ago that Iím not really sure exactly when
it happened because you see it was a very slow, slow loss. As a young child I can
remember him being a strong force in my life. I always knew which Shift he was
working and would eagerly await his arrival, be it morning, afternoon or night.
I couldnít wait to play with Dad, of course he was always too tired or Mom had
important stuff for him to take care of, but I kept waiting certain that the day would
come for my time with Dad. With four youngsters in the house there was always
some kind of mischief going on and I was as guilty as the others a good number
of the times. Well, it didnít take long for my frazzled Mother to become adept at
the age old threat ďYou just wait Ďtill your Father gets home.Ē It all sorta blurs
together but sometime in the middle years of Grade School, Dadís arrival took on
a very dreaded perspective. Now he wasnít a mean man and I donít ever recall him
striking any of us, but I most certainly believed he would if he wanted to, and it
seemed that I had a particularly good knack at getting under his skin either on my
own or through the apt reports from my Mother. By the time I entered High School
it was obvious that I seldom if ever pleased the Man. He never attended a single
one of my High School sporting events (Tennis & Soccer) and disapproved of
most of my friends. My Mother always seemed to find something to report on and
my siblings seeing the opportunity did what any siblings would doÖ.they directed all
parental attention to me. I spent most of my High School days alone in my room
when at home and away from the house whenever possible. I almost lived on my
bike. That wonderful machine could take me to happier places and away from the
chaos of home. By now my Mother had developed a habit of wanting to argue and
insisting on always being right, just because sheís right. This sport of hers is still
prevalent and many people shy away from my folks because of it. To my Dadís
credit he always stood by her during these arguments no matter what. That trait
I respected from my late High School years till present.
My marriage didnít seem to change the situation any. Gifts to Mom that my bride and
I struggled to find (will she like this? Is it right for her tastes? Etc.) were never
good enough, and he was certain to point out that fact. After a few years we just
gave them money and a card, and then after a while we just started sending them
money and a card. I think thatís when I mourned the loss of my folks, finally admitted
to myself that I just didnít fit in to their family and slowly, almost completely exited their
lives. I accepted that I was the Black Sheep and withdrew.
When we lost our first two children, one at a time, our only child each timeÖmy
folks showed up at the house once each time but there was no connection. It seemed
to us that they felt duty bound to be there. The rare encounters with them after that
always seemed to be accompanied by one of those stupid arguments. My wife grew tired
of both of them very quickly and my children thought that they were mean, and the
kids were right. At least my Mother was mean, and Dad always backed her up as she
was his wife and he plain just didnít like me or my wife because we finally learned to
stand up to her. We learned to say ďNo, youíre wrong, and this is why.Ē And then
they would storm out of the house and mutter nasty stuff to us on the way out the
door and be gone for another year or more.
Now, standing in the back of the Funeral Parlor and looking across the room at his lifeless
body in the casket I donít seem to have any emotion left. No sorrow, no hate, no more emptiness
than there ever was. Iíve stayed away from all the planning of the funeral arrangements and a
little birdie tells me itís been nothing but two long days of senseless arguing. It seems that almost
nothing at all has changed.
Itís been a very strange life indeed. My kids tell me that I have not alienated them and
they enjoy coming home, so perhaps Iíve not created the same type of void I grew up in.
I certainly hope not. Tomorrow, before visiting hours, Iím taking the aluminum racing bike
out for 20-30 miles. I expect that after I warm up and loosen up these old bones, Iíll be
moving along quite fast for a while. Iíll know when the final fuzzy corners of my brain have
cleared up, itíll be when I slow down to about 16mph and again relish being alive. Iíll drink
in the beauty of the lake and ponds and trees through my dimming eyes and marvel at how
such a simple machine can provide so much physical and mental therapy.