I lost my father a year ago today. This picture was taken a few weeks before he died, during my last visit with him. In memory of a man I never really understood, here’s my post from that fateful day:
My father passed away this morning. My sister called me to tell me the news. I knew when I saw her number on the callerID that he was gone.
Now I know what the expression “overwhelmed with grief” means. His death wasn’t a surprise. In fact, I welcomed the end to his suffering. There was nothing left unsaid between us. I’d told him goodbye and that I loved him two weeks ago. I thought I was prepared.
I’m in a daze. I keep thinking about him and moments we shared throughout my life. I’m dehydrated from crying so much.
Feels like he planned the whole thing. He had me come in two weekends ago. My sister came in to say her good-byes last weekend. This morning, with all his ducks in a row, he found out whether or not his beliefs in the hereafter were true.
My father was a simple man, really. He told me years and years ago that he didn’t believe in evolution because he’d never seen anything evolve. More recently, he dismissed claims of global climate change, citing temperature records set back in the early 1900s as evidence. These weren’t opinions he’d picked up elsewhere. That’s not how Dad rolled. He’d thought about it and come to his own conclusions. And right or wrong, he stuck to his guns.
He was fascinated with Native American culture and saw himself as a modern day Cherokee. His interest was based on a family myth that his mother’s mother was Cherokee. I’ve never been able to verify this, and his older siblings don’t think it’s true. But Dad believed it and assembled an impressive collection of Native American artifacts, paintings and photographs featuring Native Americans, books about them, and statues of them.
Because of his alleged Native American heritage, he loved the outdoors and had a deep affection for the woods, mountains, and the ocean. Early in my life, he often went hunting and fishing. But later, he abandoned the pretense and just enjoyed being in the wilderness. He went on long, solitary hikes practically every Saturday morning for decades, stopping only after the marijuana growers made him afraid to be out in the deep woods by himself.
Dad also collected antique firefighting equipment; old Lexington books, paintings, and photographs; bits and pieces of historic Lexington buildings; and for a while in the 60s, Jim Beam bottles. If you’re interested in any of the artist series, still in boxes and full of bourbon, let me know. I have no idea what will happen to all the rest.
He hasn’t always been the father I wanted, but he’s the only one I’ve ever had. And now he’s gone.