Somewhere in the ether I heard my dad calling my name and it stopped me in my tracks because it was long past the days when he walked upright upon this earth.
“Abba, this isn’t a case of Ghost Riders In the Sky and I am not chasing after the Flying Dutchman either.”
For a long while I still heard him calling my name but I figured Father’s Day is coming as is the one year anniversary of his death so it makes sense for him to be on my mind.
Went about my business, did what I have to do and drowned the noise 0ut by staying busy and then I woke up.
Must have been somewhere around 3:30 or 4 AM, bed was empty aside from me and I was sweating…hard except it wasn’t that hot.
“I took off the superhero mask, sat up and looked around..with my ears. The house was quiet but I could hear dad calling for me.
“Don’t do this dad, you know I’ll get in the car and drive until I drop from exhaustion and double check everything. I am upholding my promise..don’t mess with me. This isn’t Scooby Doo, I am not Shaggy and you know I don’t like ghosts, but I sure hear them.”
Build The Wall…Higher
For a moment I think about whether I ought to make a phone call and just talk to someone to confirm it is not a dream.
Can’t call anyone in California because it is the middle of the night and I’ll scare them. Can’t call anyone on the East coast because time of day will scare them too.
Got Europe and got Israel that could work. Telephone numbers, Facebook messenger, Whatsapp and Snapchat are all available to stand in for Ma Bell.
I got Snapchat because I wouldn’t let my daughter sign up unless I had an account but I almost never use it. Got Whatsapp because some of my cousins and friends in Israel contact me there, but I rarely use that too.
The thing is, I don’t want to let go and talk…not really.
It feels like I have to figure this out myself, so I mutter something to myself about building the wall higher and tell myself it is time to suck it up and harden my heart a little bit more.
The issue is I have questions and conversations I want to have but there is no back and forth to be had anymore, no multi-directional build off of one idea and evaluate three or four more to engage in.
No tales about how my elders managed or unspoken hints that I ought to be more like them and less effusive about sharing my inner thoughts.
Memories of conversations from my early twenties spring forward, “you know that girls like to talk about these things. We like it when you act like man, but we also like when you talk and share your thoughts.”
“I don’t need to share everything, but if you want to know and you ask I might answer…maybe. But don’t ask unless you really want to know because you’ll piss me off if you’re just being polite and aren’t really interested.”
Something about that particular fragment reminds me of another conversation with dad about how exhausting small talk can be.
“You get it now. You spend all day having to engage in it so it is really nice not to have to do it when you get home.”
“Yeah dad, I get it now.”
Too bad he is not here for me to share how many other things I get now.
Dad is in a rehab facility and it is just the two of us. His PT is over and if I didn’t know about the cancer I’d figure this is something we have to work on together to get his strength back.
But we both know it is not just PT and that there is an invisible assassin coming for him.
The old man has fooled the docs so many times it is impossible for me not to hope he isn’t going to do it again, but I am not going to rely upon it.
That is because the man in the bed has trained me in the art of redundancy for health and emergency items.
So we talk and I do my best to keep asking the questions that I know I need answers to and to say the things I won’t get a chance to later on.
“Fifty isn’t that old. It sounds like it, but you can still start over. You can still do so many things, it might be a pain-in-the-ass but it is not as hard as you think.”
I believe him because it makes sense and he has no reason to exaggerate or lie.
“You know old man, you’re going to take a few secrets of mine to the grave.”
He smiles and tells me only if I remember to shut up and I smile back at him.
We sit in silence and it occurs to me how many times he has let me help him do things 0ver the past couple of years.
That is when I realize how he has been slowing down for a while longer than I had recognized because time was he would have told me to keep my hands to myself rather than accept help.
I know we are much closer to the end than the start, but I still wonder if there isn’t something I can do. Not sure what it is, but maybe it will come to me.
“You know dad, if you figure out how to get the cancer to step out of your body I’ll fight it for you. I have got my power.”
He laughs and I know he remembers me saying that when I was quite little.
Usually when I hear the bells I figure someone else is thinking about me. Every now and then I may do things to try to confirm, but usually I just accept it.
It is harmless and it doesn’t really matter if I am right or wrong.
It is different with dad, that is not to say I am worried about it being bad or dangerous. It is just harder because the feelings are a little bit raw.
So I walk under partially full moon in the Texas sky I listen to his voice calling out my name and tell him if he has something to say I am listening.
Going to be a little strange come Sunday to not have any plans with him. Won’t be any conversations about whether we’ll do dinner, brunch, or something else.
Won’t be any conversations about our being sorry we can’t celebrate together or how we’ll talk on Sunday.
So I guess I’ll just do my thing and think about him how I’d tell him he is right, fifty isn’t that old.