What I Owe My Father

I owe my father more than just quitting.  I want to be a quitter.

I want to sink into that dark, heavy grease of depression and death: the tarry substance that lies in the night sky between stars; the space without life or oxygen or gravity that is as cold as Absolute Zero and eats feelings for breakfast, leaving you unburdened with things like grief and fear and the other fabrics of human emotion.

Before he died (in April of 2012; was that last week? A month or so ago? Something like that. I have lost all calendars and all my watches have slowly wound down and stopped tick-clicking their soothing song of mortality, but that seems a fair reckoning) he was constantly harassing me about writing posts for this blog; I didn’t even know he knew it existed for a long time.  He read the last (stupid; pathetic; churlish; childish) post, and he wanted more.  I had to take medical leave from my regular gig at the small town newspaper, and was (mostly) lying to friends and family about my progress on THE NOVEL. My dad didn’t care about the newspaper–other than what I wrote for it.  He knew the publisher for a first-rate bastard, and was uninterested in reading anything after I went on leave.  Occasionally he would read something one of my friends in Rainsville or Scottsboro (at our sister-papers) would pen.  But mostly he subsisted on what I (wasn’t) writing on this pathetic little blog.

The last thing I said to my father: “I think we should go a while without talking.”  It was after an argument.  I have no idea what it was about.  Isn’t that funny? Yeah.  Not really, I guess.  Except, God (whatever your conception of He, She, or It is) must have gotten a big laugh over those words.

Except I did sort of talk to my father.  He was to be cremated, but the funeral home generously provided a gurney and a small “visitation room” so my brother and I could have a little time to say goodbye to him.  So I saw him one last time.  I yelled at him.  “Why didn’t you go to the hospital?” Why. Why Why. I yelled, cried, screamed, laughed hysterically, whispered apologies, entreaties to God, promises and bargains I had no way of keeping (or even making).  God and my father were both silent.

“When are you going to write something else on your blog?” That was the last thing I can remember my father asking me.

It probably wasn’t the last thing he said to me.  But it’s all I’ve got.

And I owe him more than my silence.

So I guess I will try to talk more.  I know he’s not reading.  But maybe he is. What I know is often proven to be not as much as I think I do, so who can say? I owe him more than I can ever repay.  I wrote my first story when I was six or seven.  I wrote silly songs, chants, rituals to satisfy my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, liner notes for the tapes bands I was in put out, bad poetry, mediocre poetry, checks, bad checks, and the beginnings of several novels.

Oh, and articles and columns for 4 newspapers, two magazines, and a couple of ‘zines.

And I guess I’m writing posts for EVIL ROBOTS again.  Because I owe my father.  Big time.

Hope you’re out there somewhere, daddy.  I like to think you are in one of those bright, white stars, surrounded by all that cold black space.  I’ll try to stay out of the dark as long as I can.  I can’t make any promises, because we can’t shake on them.  But I’m trying.

Because I owe you.

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