I am not your blowing wind
I am the lightning
I am not your autumn moon
I am the night
Sifting through my father’s things in a hushed hurry, I examined every faded Polaroid, every wrinkled note, every trinket as if it were a clue in a crime scene.
Loose rounds from a .357 Magnum I didn’t know he owned, polished brass cufflinks engraved with his initials, a Republican National Committee sustaining member card from ’85, a Garrison Keillor cassette (I am a fan of Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion, I had no idea my father was too) and a gold pendant with a baby picture of yours truly sealed in behind a round of glass. I didn’t know how my father voted until I found his RNC card, but it should come as no surprise to me that a man who marched across the border at the age of sixteen and became a legal citizen as soon as he had earned the money to do so would identify with the party that has advocated hand ups over handouts. Aside from these few, many of his belongings lay in stark contrast with one another, two different worlds colliding in a sock drawer.
I am ashamed more than ever to admit that I know very little of my father. Not because he wasn’t around but because by the time that I had been born, life had calloused him into a man that the light struggled to shine through. My father’s mind is fading fast, but I will try to exercise the memories of the good past with him, I will remind him every time we meet until the day he passes that it was because of his lifetime of backbreaking hard work that my family was able to live well. I will remind my father that it was his hard work that gave my sister the opportunity to go to a great university; she was first in our family to do so. I will remind my father that it was his hard work that provided me with the financial safety net to dawdle after my dreams. It seems so profoundly selfish now that we have all thrived while my father has withered, alone, now that my uncle has passed on.
My father is a flawed man, but he does not deserve to meet his end haunted by regret. I will do what I can do steer his mind toward pleasant horizons until his time comes.