“I hear you live in Texas now.”
“That is true.”
“How long have you been divorced?”
“Oh, yeah, this time.”
“Long enough that people like you are asking questions.”
“Well you know we used to see you all the time and now we don’t.”
“It is a long commute from Dallas to LA.”
“You’re still pretty funny. What brings you out to LA?”
“My dad has Pancreatic cancer. Since you heard about all my divorces I am surprised you don’t know about that.”
“You and I don’t really talk so I didn’t think it is appropriate to bring it up.”
“I appreciate that. Talking about my divorces is appropriate, but my father’s health is far too real so probably best to keep that low key.”
My expression gives nothing away and that is my intention. I want them to feel uncomfortable because this is the dumbest conversation I have had in a while, especially since I can’t remember his name.
It is a mad world.
The Secrets Of Our Lives
It is early July and I am standing alone in my father’s room telling dad about the idiot.
“Why would you waste time talking to him?”
“I was curious to find out about the rest of my life. Maybe I am the owner of an empire and I can retire. You didn’t leave me one so I am stuck.”
Dad smiles and tells me it is my grandfather’s fault.
“Grandpa would blame his dad and I bet Zayde would blame his. If your grandchildren are lucky I’ll break that chain.”
Dad says he hopes so too and then we sit for a while, a comfortable silence settles over us. It is easy and familiar, but a voice inside me whispers I ought not to let it go too long.
“Dad, I need to tell you a few things, you can call some of this the secrets of my life. Some of what I say is just a bare overview because you don’t need any more than that. It is stuff that I might have eventually shared or might not have, I don’t really know. I just know now it is ok.”
Bright blue eyes absorb all I share and his head nods but he doesn’t say much.
“I trust you to make the right decisions for you. Do what you need to do. It will all work out.”
“Thank you. I am going to miss this.”
Just A Rookie
The phone rings and I hear a familiar voice ask me how I am doing.
“I am checking in. You’re not real good about asking for help or leaning on people and this is really hard, especially the first couple of years.”
“Yeah, I am just a rookie at this and you are right, it is hard. But I am pretty good about gutting out the harder days.”
“You don’t have to gut out the harder days alone. You have more support than you realize.”
“Maybe, but there are lots of moments where it feels less than stellar. I don’t want to be that guy who does nothing but complain. It is a short list of people I talk to.”
“You’ll figure it out and if they are good friends they won’t mind.”
“True. This getting older thing sucks. Doc looked at my test results and said I need to come back in, gave me a bunch of tests to do.”
There is a short chuckle and a list of questions about which tests I am going to do and an assurance that I am not the only one who has to do them or has done them.
“You know what is funny? I felt like I was making real progress before I heard I needed to do them and for the last few days I have felt like Samson after a hair cut.”
“It is just nerves Josh, you’ll get your results and find out that you can take corrective action.”
“You are probably right, but damn I hate waiting. I want to run do them now so that I can find out what the hell is going on. Anticipation sucks.
And I am even more irritated that dad isn’t here so I can ask him if he remembers this time.”
So much of those last few days and the funeral was/is a blur. As time passes some of the blurry parts are coming into focus and memories are forming.
“Your father was fearless. He saved my job. I owe him so much. You remind me of him. I bet you don’t take shit from anyone either. Your dad had such a big heart.”
“That’s why he had the bypass. They had to shrink it to make it fit inside his chest.”
He tells me I am funny but I am not so sure I was. Still I appreciate the kind words about dad.
The service is going to be starting soon so I excuse myself and walk through the chapel towards the family area.
I pause by dad’s casket and tell him if he wakes up to knock like hell and I’ll pull him out.
“You know I’ll do it so don’t knock unless you really need me dad. People will flip and I don’t need to fight them off while rescuing you. Besides that fucking amputation is going to make this harder. Do we always need to do it the hard way.”
Though I whisper the sound of the last sentence sounds exactly like dad talking to me. That makes me giggle and I quickly turn away from the crowd because I don’t know if I’ll lose it.
I might laugh so hard I collapse or I might cry–I can’t tell which and though I don’t care what people think I haven’t any patience for anyone trying to talk to me about it.
It has been a challenging day and there have been at least three different times I have though I ought to give dad a call.
The third time I went to the garage and grabbed dad’s hammer and held it.
“If life worked like the movies you’d talk to me through this hammer but this isn’t a movie is it.”
I pause and listen carefully but there are no lightning bolts, burning bushes or signs. Just silence.
“Yeah, I get it. This is me and I’ll figure it out. Kind of funny dad, I spent years trying to prove I didn’t need or want your advice and now here we are.”
The silent monologue makes me snort, because it does sound like a movie. Can’t do anything more than keep on keeping on and see where it all leads. Ain’t life a kick. 😉