My father had always been a very active man throughout his life. Some would have said in the bygone lexicon of former days that he was a ‘go-getter’. It came with his most favored vocation of a salesman and in his off hours as a gambler. The long road of his existence had wended its way through increasingly frequent bouts of sickness of a Benedrine damaged heart followed by an inevitable demise nested in a condition of exhaustion exacerbated by extended stays in the VA where he ultimately died from their neglect offered up in the form of Mersa. All throughout me own stormy interaction he remained a colossus within which my own shadow was eclipsed. When he died it was a shock that despite the fact of rational probability could not be fathomed by either myself or by my mother.
It took a couple of years for a transition from a state of disbelief to a final acceptance of these facts to be reached within our household and slowly his presence was replaced by a conventional absence of energy and drive. Situations took on a milder form of crisis and as furniture was rearranged and closets slowly emptied, his presence in our lives waned to an occasional moment of guilt or whimsy. I can recall those occasional conversations with my mother in which she had deposed him to the status of another former lost love, whose temporal promise of happiness vied with the intervening sixty years of her sometimes stormy marriage with my father. For my own part, there was a certain burden of guilt that was routinely trotted out like an offering to an older now beneficent god who only demanded occasional recognition to maintain the balance of the universe.
All was well, beyond the expectation in present tense of a slow destruction of our long accustomed lifestyle that was defaulting to the new realities of a Globalized existence. My mother was the sick one now and I was still manning the decks as promised to my father as part of one of his last cognizant dying wishes. This entailed a new career as chef, steward and caregiver. All my own desires for reaching personal goals had been obliterated by the demands of this daily routine of home based work and occasional nights upon a bar stool decompressing from the stress. Strange to say it in hindsight, but his presence in our lives was now after three years notably in absence.
One morning after waking I awoke to find a curious sight within the lounge room of a three-quarter sized version of my father sitting inertly at rest upon the tattered sofa. Though I wouldn’t say my first reaction was one of shock or horror at this unexpected apparition, it did inspire an overwhelming sense of wonder at this most curious and impossible sight. Having personally seen my father’s lifeless remains ensconced within a cardboard wrapped shroud a moment before immolation, the fact of any physical presence by virtue of a pernicious trick could be ruled out of the question. The apparition was clothed in garish boxer shorts with a two-day growth of beard as would have been expected of my father in his later years. Though this clones unmoving indifference was not comically wide-eyed as one might have expected in some off-market zombie drive exploitation film, the fact of its impeccable likeness could not be dismissed.
Without moving to touch it or test it in any way, it was obvious that my father former earthly form had inexplicable returned to its rightful domain bereft of the driving spirit that was now most obviously permanently errant. My mother was equally at a loss to reconcile this unexpected turn of events. One would have expected some form of connective reaction to have gone immediately into effect at the first glance but judging by the absolute lack of response, nothing. The effigy was not without life however. We found that like a dutiful developmental disadvantaged child it would follow the two of us into another room and stand there as if ready to receive some form of command. Blankly staring at us as if waiting for us to speak to it, a then inertly indifferent to our subsequent verbal responses. This went on for some time over the next few days where we now had once again become a three-some.
A week or two passed and the wonder surrounding the presence of this pint-sized living doll had diminished greatly as just another of the many shabby artifacts of past eras that were strewn about the apartment. The effigy now seemed to be evidencing occasional signs of snippets of spontaneous behavior reminiscent of its former tenant. The locations that it chose to inhabit, the manner of standing and sitting. Even occasionally manhandling items that were significant to its former namesake, my father. It was an odd feeling that this oddity of time and space and nature was attempting to intervene like some cosmic interloper? Insinuating itself into our daily routines as if to say that is was a viable substitute for that monumental physical presence that had once shook the ground with thunder at his every request. The disparity of an all-consuming constant dialogue now long lost in counterpoint to this utterly silent presence was too apparent.
Was this a vehicle of some sort sent from another dimension to serve as a portal for the return of my father to this world? Or was it some form of inexplicable phenomena that is often mentioned under the subject heading of urban legends where fantastic situations are oft recounted but never explained? Whatever the explanation, neither my mother nor might I say was I, encouraged to take the matter outside of our tiny family circle. It was enough to simply adapt and see what might happen much in the way that one’s youth is disparaged by the vagaries of advancing age and conducted to that final earthly portal that holds the key to every mystery with the final solution of death.