Daddy Dearest

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My father’s widow — his second wife — sent me a photo of my father in the mail today. And a copy of the program from his memorial service. I didn’t feel much of anything when I looked at it. Aside from these slight pangs of melancholy. And this sense of incompleteness. So much of my life is dogged by this sense of incompleteness. Like things never developed fully. Everything always ends up short of the mark some how. A half-assed try. Never reaching fruition. Always something missing. Like it should have added up to something more than it was.

And it all happened so quickly. He was 86 and pretty much like he’d always been. I had gotten a letter from him just the month before. “Nothing new to report here. Same old blah blah blah.” Then I get an email from my brother. “The doctors say he has cancer. And at his age there’s nothing they can do about it. They say he could live for another two years.” And then in two weeks he was dead.

I never had any kind of relationship with him as an adult. In the 45 years since I left his home at age 17 he was mostly just a blank spot in my life. There were long periods where I actively disliked him. And long periods were I was mostly just indifferent towards him. And brief periods where I felt something akin to affection, admiration, and respect towards him. But mostly I didn’t think about him at all.

And now I’m mostly just left with with this feeling of incompleteness. Like something is missing. Something lacking. Something that slipped through my fingers. That you can never get back.

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