I've written here, over the past couple of years, of my troubled relationship with my father. Neither of us went fishing for trouble -- times and circumstances being what they were, we both got dealt a pretty crappy hand at the old father/son poker table of life.
Well, the old man passed away last Thursday (June 3, 2010) at the age of 83. It was not unexpected on my part. He'd been going downhill for the past couple of years. Physically, that is. He still had all his marbles. My step-mom, on the other hand, was sliding off into dementia. I recognized the symptoms in her because my birth mom had slid down that same slope, starting in the 1980's until she finally died in 1995.
Life just wore dad down and, finally, he just gave out. I spoke to him in his hospital bed in Florida last week and he said, "I just want to die. Are you alright?" "Yes, Dad. I'm alright." I found out afterwards that he'd had pretty much the same conversation with everyone in the family. He was seeking permission to let go, once he'd assured himself that we were going to be "alright."
I used to kid myself that I wasn't really close to my father. I didn't know him until I was a grown-up and, besides, he was a macho man, and I was a gay geek.
I was wrong. I miss my father already. I miss the "potential" that we still had, as long as he was still alive. So even though we were strangers to each other in many ways, there still loomed the prospect that things would get magically better between us. But now, even that prospect is gone.
Wherever things stood between us last week is where things will remain until, in due course, I follow my dad "into that good night."
With any luck, when that time comes, we'll be able to pick up where we left off. At least, that's what I'd like to believe.
Goodbye for now, Dad. I love you.