My dad died on July 8th. Way back in 1987. It was a relatively quick death, although it didn't seem so fast at the time. But from the time he called the night before his first brain surgery in April until his wife tracked me down that morning in July when I was at a meeting at the DWP in Los Angeles, was only about three months.
In that three months, I spent weeks at a time visiting, wishing, praying, willing it to not end as it did. I had only just left two days before he died, convinced that I'd be back to see him in a few weeks.
But tumors don't pay attention to prayers or wishes or wills of mere mortals such as me and mine. Or those of you and yours. They grow, even after being excised by conceited holier-than-thou motherfucker surgeons. They grow and consume. And they spit out all the pleas you throw at them.
There's a soundtrack in my mind of that time. One of those songs -- Willie Nelsons "Always on My Mind" -- now accompanies some tearjerker commercial. It played the night before the 26th anniversary of my dad's death. And so I have left the living room where "Storage Wars" plays to come down and listen to those songs.
Willie's, of course, And Bruce Hornsby's "Mandolin Wind." And Dan Fogelberg's "Leader of the Band" -- which I had them play at the funeral. And "Lady in Red," which was there and then and overplayed while my stepmother and I schlepped my father to my stepbrother's college freshman orientation and to the outlets and to his rental property to see my brother Steve vacate the property with his ferret, and to the Fourth of July fireworks, viewed from a shopping mall outside of Cocoa Beach.
I drove back home to California with my oldest brother's piece-of-shit car, a Chevette, if I recall correctly. He was stationed in Turkey at the time. And my dad, stupid fool that he was, had been making the payments on it and keeping the car safe for my brother. I kept the car safe, but, no, I didn't make any motherfucking payments.
I got a trucker burn driving back across country, dropping off my brother in Dover, Delaware, after the funeral so he could fly back to Turkey. Up from Florida to Delaware, mere hours after saying good-bye to my Dad, the amazingly human man that fathered me. Florida to California via Delaware, stopping here and there to cry myself to a fitful sleep for the sadness of it all.
Back then, I believed there was a God, with a capital G, who would welcome my dad and accept his many foibles, and who would keep him there and in good graces until, at some time, I'd be there. To reaffirm that, yeah, Dad, I love you.
I don't believe any more. Not one bit. But I do believe, really and truly, that I am my father's child. And that matters.
I love you, Dad. I wish you had gotten to see those absolutely fabulous children I have, and that you had gotten to meet that wonderful husband. Your genes live on. I live on.