Sunday, June 21, 2015

My father and I

My father was 41 when I was born. He was quite an athlete in his youth, eventually becoming captain of his high school basketball team. I was his sixth child overall but the only child from his marriage to my mother. Naturally, when I became older he introduced me to sports. At first I felt like a disappointment to him on that front. I was slow and clumsy. I'd miss easy throws or catches. I got frustrated and gave up trying to learn. Dad never said anything about it until one day when he noticed that I was literally pressing my nose into a book.

"Son," he said, holding up a sheet of paper, "Can you read anything on this? Don't come up here, just tell me what it says from where you are."

"I can't see anything on it."

"Let's go get you fitted for glasses."

That solved my athletic ineptitude. Dad also instilled in me my love of literature and reading. One of my fondest memories of the family must have been in 1989 or 1990. A freak snowstorm had left my hometown buried in snow. The electricity was out for three days. There's never been anything like that storm around here since then. Dad and I sat in recliners in front of a roaring fire, each with a stack of mighty tomes by his side. My mom was bouncing off the walls without TV. "How can you just SIT there and read?!" she'd cry.

My parents divorced when I was 12 or 13 years old. Divorce completely destroys young children, but no matter how old you are, it does affect you in some way. Neither of my parents remarried afterward. To my knowledge, neither one so much as went on a date. Dad always lived about 20 miles away so it wasn't like a complete separation of the family. Two years ago, in the weeks leading up to his death, my mother doted on him and took care of him as if they'd never been apart.

Rest in peace dad.

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