Every time I sit down to blog something, whatever I try writing ends up involving my dead father. I’ve tried ignoring it. I’ve tried composing things solely in my head to see if it releases the memories into a magical void. It’s all still there. Maybe I need to vomit a billion words about it and see if that sets me free. I don’t know.
I wanted to post about how emotionally unhealthy the mandatory insurance “health coaches” are when being ‘happy in the skin you are in’ is contrary to their spiel. But my most recent coaching call began with the person who is not a Doctor reading my medical records and asking if I wanted to discuss my grieving process. Even though I clearly said no, they proceeded to quiz me about what I am doing to get over it. By the time the call ended, I was a complete wreck. How is that healthy? How can I blog about it without mentioning my father?
I am allowed to be sad. I’m still a functional member of society. If anything, I’m MORE active and involved than I was before my father left us. It is not possible to stand watch as someone who is an integral part of who you are turns blue, then white and not be changed forever by it. I’ve seen death before. I remember the teenager hanging in his garage as the firemen cut him down. I stood with other bystanders waiting for someone to react to the mangled remains of the motorcyclist. I grew up going to small town, open casket funerals. This… this was different. Even though two of my father’s Doctor friends who somehow talked the ICU nurses into letting them see his medical records assured us that my father was already gone, it still feels like we killed him. We unplugged his body. We DID do that.
My father knew it was coming. He was never afraid. He was sad. He was worried. Every Wednesday, he spent the day on my recliner talking about things and increasingly the conversations became about his death. When my mother said she missed having a dog since her Corgi died many months earlier, my father sat in my living room and talked about his concern that a dog would outlive both of them. I washed dishes and nodded as he talked. He rapidly decided that my mother needed a dog to be there for him when he left. In a cruel twist of fate, the dog fell in love with my father and grieved him in a way I have never seen in an animal.
Our conversations frequently involved politics. They were frustrating and my father sometimes delighted in vexing me with something he read on one of the sites that I refuse to take seriously. Our very last conversation started with him asking me how I felt about a local politician. The conversation haunts me for some reason. Maybe because we both agreed that the politician was good at his job because he became an elected official who went to every meeting in his community and actually listened to people instead of towing a party line and rudely insulting constituents with a different party on their voting records. Probably because it was our final talk. Ever. There’s a part of me who really needs to thank that politician for being something my father and I could politically agree on, but another part of me thinks it would frighten that poor man to watch me cry.
As a child of community volunteers, I volunteer for two initial orgs. One of them keeps requiring me to be in a building that my father was passionate about saving from the ravages of time. It’s not the building that the rest of Knoxville is attached to saving. “That building is going to cost a fortune if they keep it or rebuild it, so I have no opinion either way.” My father cared about an underappreciated building that was at risk of the fake bricks falling off in a giant sheet. It was the facility that my gun in a holster on his waist father broke ranks from his fellow party members and defended the “liberal Mayor’s” stance on in a public letter. Every time I get near that building, I cry. It’s just a building, but it’s a tangled mess of memories to me. I’m going there tomorrow. I will keep going there to channel those feelings into something purposeful.
I see the anniversary of his death approaching in 2017 and I know that the right thing to do is seize that day and live every minute of it, but I still don’t know how we are going to make it thru Christmas with his ghost everywhere, all the time.
I’m trying. I just wish he would spend a little less time haunting me and a little more time at Neyland Stadium watching football.