Today is my father's birthday. He would be 91 years old but he didn't live to see it. I added that sentence because if you knew him ( = he allowed you to see some part of his life) you might be more surprised than those who shared his hearth and home about the abruptness of the ending of his life story. And if you visited here on anything other a sporadic schedule would realize from the way I write and reference him that he is and will always be a presence in my life.
Probably not surprisingly our father-son relationship was strained. I smiled as I typed that word and I hope he would have as well. If I were to be honest and he taught me that if little else, I grimaced, but from a distance they look very close. They aren't of course or this entry would be much shorter.
I was the oldest of six children. As near as I can tell, he never was comfortable in his own skin with any of us. I assumed, ignorantly and arrogantly, that he and I clashed throughout the years I lived under his roof because we were so different. It took a photograph my wife took of him lost in a moment on the only visit to America she was to know him for that I realized, decades afterwards looking at a photo of myself with my head cocked exactly like his, that we were too much of the same kind. Aye, there's the rub.
Dad was 28 years old when I, his son, was born. I was thirty when Patrick, our son was born. I think I learned a lot about life from life itself but I chose to forget who had prepared me to be ready to learn at all. I'd like to believe had Dad lived he'd have enjoyed meeting our two children as much if not more than I would have enjoyed introducing them to him. It's part of the movie of my life as it might have been that I'm an expert at making (scoring the soundtrack has proven to be difficult, so far). As long as I don't have to script an ending yet, this should be cake, though I'm not looking forward to casting.
Dad was the smartest person I will ever know though not smart enough to figure out the inchoate rage at life he carried with him every waking moment and that I inherited is both toxic and fatal. He found that out too late to help himself but in his passing he helped me to see it and, I'd like to think, make some adjustments, though not as many as I should/could, to better catch the second act of our children's lives. I'm smiling again as I type this time because I have an appointment with my cardiologist later today that helps me prove to myself just how much I have learned.
Loudon Wainwright, to whom I bore a striking resemblance when we were younger (though I suspect no one ever told him he looked like me) offered an album and song not that long ago, "Older Than My Old Man Now", and for the thrid time since sitting down to type I have to smile. My facial muscles hurt, seriously.
Some curtains go up while others are rung down. Christine Rice offered, "(T) purpose of life is to live, laugh and love." I'd like to think we are to light a match against the darkness without being consumed by it on our way to where we need to be. Happy birthday, Dad.