Thursday, February 4, 2010


A letter to Dad, my constant character

I miss you.
Never thought I’d say that after you were dead. That’s the farthest thing from how I thought I’d feel. That I’d remember you and be relieved you were no longer around as a constant worry on the top of many other worries, yes. That I would, perhaps, no longer feel overwhelmed by your never ending needs as your disease progressed, of course. I even thought I might finally get back my life. But a funny thing happened. I gained an appreciation of your unorthodox point of view and unique character and realized that I would never again be able to have a conversation with you about anything.
I asked a friend, “How many fathers can you have a conversation with about pot?” Did I think I’d miss that? No way. I had taken on the parent role in your presence, shielding my children from their grandfather’s ‘wicked ways.’ My husband often chastised you. In the end, you finally “got it” and, after reaching automatically for one of your pipes (one for tobacco; the other for pot), you would suddenly stop and look around. You became less selfish and noticed others. After 46 years knowing you as the ultimate selfish person with eccentric theories, I couldn’t accept your new found observations of blemishes on my face or my tired appearance. One day close to your death you said out of the clear blue, “You know Gwyn, I love you very much,” and another, when you finally relinquished your ATM card for me to take care of your money matters, “I know you’re capable of doing this, Gwyn.”
To really understand you I had to watch the old Disney movie “The Three Cabellerros.” The tale of Donald Duck in South America, filled with beautiful Latin women, romantic music, and, of course, silly Donald Duck in love. This was YOU pre-marriage and kids, the war memorabilia business, alcohol, and sailing to Hawaii and back when you quit drinking, took to smoking weed, lost your sailboat, business, and home. After that came the period I wrote about in “East Garrison.” The crazy father period when you became obsessed with numerology, Egypt, hieroglyphs, and seeking the truth. This was the father I could never connect with.
I’m alone now, an orphan in the world. I’m responsible for raising my own children, and I can focus entirely on them, but I miss you dad. All of you. I never realized how much it would hurt to not have you in my life. It wasn’t a relief for you to die. I’m sorry I never told you how much I love you too.
If there is a heaven and you are in it, please watch over me, Dad. I need you now more than ever before. I’m barely hanging to this life by two umbilical cords. You gave me reason to live--to take care of you. Now that you’re gone, I’m lost. Help me to find my own way again.
I’ll love you forever,
Your Penguin

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