Memories of my father

Two weeks from tonight will be the 27th anniversary of my mother’s death. I remember many things from that time, but one of the most vivid memories was the look in my father’s eyes as I drove us to New York for her burial and glanced back at him in the rearview mirror. I knew that half of him had died with her.

He has been in a nursing home since November, growing frailer and more distant. He hasn’t seemed any longer like the father I knew.

I like to remember him as the man who taught me to throw a ball, giving me a black eye when I insisted he throw the baseball fast so I could learn to catch a hard throw without flinching. He was the man who taught me how to hammer a nail and use a crosscut saw, so that, many years later, when I showed him a table I had made, he said, “You’ve outdone me,” but there was a note of pride in his voice as he said it. He taught me how to change oil and sparkplugs so I could do some of the maintenance on my own car. I like to remember his horrible 70s perm, and his bad jokes. One of my fondest memories of my childhood was standing on a chair next to him in the kitchen as he made doughnuts and I got to dip them in cinnamon sugar. I wasn’t allowed to eat the doughnuts, but I got to eat all the doughnut holes I could stuff in my mouth. And I remember being blessed with holy water every night of my life that I spent under his roof.

My father and I had grown apart over the past 25 years, after he remarried a woman who was a bitter, negative kind of person, the kind who tried to drive a wedge between him and his family – probably out of her own insecurity over the kind of family we had been. One of those wedges was over my being a lesbian, but a couple of years ago, after he’d had a serious stroke and the wife had left him during his rehab, my aunt sat him down and helped him realize he hadn’t lost a gay daughter, he’d gained a daughter-in-law.

Two weeks from tonight will be the 27th anniversary of my mother’s death, and tonight, the other half of my father went to meet her. I know he died a frail, ill old man, but I’ll remember the other things.

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6 thoughts on “Memories of my father

  1. What a beautiful memorial to your father, Caren. You are indeed fortunate to have such wonderful memories. Thank you for
    sharing some of them. They make me appreciate him all the more, more than I already did just for his being your father.

  2. Caren
    I am sorry to read that you lost someone important in your life but happy to know you reconciled before this happened. You remind us that life is too short to be petty, intolerant, dismissive, any of those toxic adjectives. Parents everywhere hope their children will remember them fondly and forgive the mistakes. Good that you have done that so well. Our warm wishes to you and Beth at this sad time.
    Anne Steidinger

  3. Dear Caren,
    Wonderful memories that bound you both together even during the tough times. And eventually he came to know the good of it. All best Caren.

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