Thursday, September 9, 2010

September 10

No, that's not a typo. I know you were thinking, ugh, another 9/11 comment. Nope, this is just a personal acknowledgment that it is my father's birthday tomorrow. He's been dead a few years now. Being the victim of some horrible disease that robbed him of his brains, bit by bit, you could say that he's been a dead for a number of years.

He was a difficult man to put it mildlly. To say that our political beliefs were at polar opposites doesn't quite do justice to how differently we viewed the world. I could never understand how someone so intelligent (and his I.Q. was phenomenal) could be so stupid. I imagine he thought the same about me. One of those people of whom people say, "He could whistle birds off a tree," he was also legendary for alienating people with equal ease. You either loved him or you hated him. Whenever I'd go down to the hospital where he worked I was never sure of the reception I was going to get. Either people would glare at me or give me a broad smile when I asked for him. It was never indifference!

I put my daughter on a plane to go back to college yesterday. She barely knew him. By the time she was really aware of people around her, he was little more than a shell, barely talking, barely registering anything. Of course, we didn't know that this was only the beginning of the slide, and that it was going to get a whole hell of a lot worse. But the reality is that had he not gotten ill, it is very unlikely that I'd call him up to tell him that she'd arrived safely (like I'm going to do with my mother this morning). We didn't have that kind of relationship.

That's the thing about death. It ends all the fantasies that you may have. That one day my father and I could discuss politics without getting into a screaming match. That he'd actually call to see if his grandaughter gotten to her destination safely. That, well, you get the picture.

Anyway, Dad, I hope that where ever you are Leonard Bernstein is conducting Beethoven's 9th and there's a prime rib dinner with all the trimmings in front of you. Happy Birthday.

Love Claire

1 comment:

veronica-rich said...

Well, I think it's safe to say you and I are largely singing off the same page of the hymnal on this topic. My sister said the only thing Dad's asked her about her upcoming trip overseas is when she'll be back home - and that's only because he wants to have his girlfriend over. No "what are you going to see?" or "why do you want to go there?" or "who are you staying with?" That's just one of many many examples.