Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day: Problematic Day

My father is now dead. He died exactly how he didn't want to die, by inches, bits, and pieces, as his body kept telling him that he was done. Yet modern medicine ignores the body's telltales signs and keeps coming up with medications and treatments that prolong our lives beyond their "sell" date. When he lost his capacity to swallow, I thought to myself, christ on a bicycle, if that doesn't signal that the body is done, then what does? And yet, doctors also take oaths that demand they do everything to preserve the sanctity of life. I'll let the ethicists debate this one, because, really, at this point I don't have a frigging clue what that means.

Anyway, that's not the point of this piece, which is, the problematic father. My dad was a man of unbelievable strengths and profound weaknesses, and it's hard to think of him without acknowledging the whole: the brilliance tempered with the massive self doubt and hatred; the wit juxtaposed to the caustic jibe; the gentle man whose politics were so right that they made my teeth ache.

But on this day I think I should concentrate on the good. The trips to Tilden with my sister for pony and carousel rides. The Sunday afternoons spent at Oakland's Fairyland. Endless games of pee wee golf at that place on Telegraph Ave. I'm sure all this was unspeakably boring, and yet he weathered through it and I don't remember any complaints. The carousel at Tilden still survives, as does Fairyland. The pee wee golf place got swallowed up years ago by an office building. Some landmarks of my childhood still survive--not many--but enough that I've taken my children to these places and in the process walked in my father's shoes for a bit.

So, yes, I chose to remember those Sundays at Fairyland and Tilden, and hot dogs at Oscars. Good times, Dad. Thanks..

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