My father. Though the years have past since I last had my hand in yours I still bask in your empty shadow. The world is no longer and noisy or chaotic or in frenzy of the usual hurry up and let’s get going. Those long rides just to the corner that invariably turned into a short expeditions to a much longer list of many places unknown no longer taken. No more house keys metallically scrunching themselves so loudly like a clarion call in the late afternoon held in a weather chilled grip. That same chilled hand for a moment acknowledging my warm cheek with a pat and a smile. That ceremony of declaration of the most significant achievement or event that epitomized the life struggle of making his way in the world for yet another day. When even at the worst of times there was a steady undefeated determination that this was after all another day in a long line of others to come. A guy who always had a dollar handy for a hard luck story whether it was true or a bad approximation of someone else’s best attempt. A man you always gave me too much. A man whose boundless energies seemed to turn the world on its daily axis. But who equally held in his stony judgments in abeyance behind a strangely silent tongue. Someone, as it was so often related by my mother, who that never had the opportunities for love that I had. A lonely little boy that served the mean streets of the city in any way that opportunity presented as a tool for his own families’ survival in that too often epoch of hard times that offered little hope for anything else but further disappointment. Someone that everyone else liked. And you could see by so many other expressions that were collectively not afraid to tell anyone else in attendance about this ‘card’ and character. And a tiny few that occasionally hated him as hard as they were able. As a part of a class of individuals that so often in spite of their own mixed efforts looked upon his and saw only too easy success. A father who bore a son too comfortably upon that ever available shoulder. This reliable quality that, much to his child’s later regret, could support so much more in pain and doubt with an apparent ease than his own set of same ever could. A soul that at they very end displayed more smiles than sorrows when it became my time to take his hand in my own. The mighty emptiness of all the space that he took up in life still unused and very unlikely to ever be so. A few old shabby food stained cuffs and lapels on men’s suits now deflated in a darkened bank of closets gone unused. A small inventory of items incidental to current existence taking on a patina of mounting dust. A memory here or there of those constantly repeated liturgy of the old well-told incidents and stories that he cherished. Their number diminishing to this increasingly brittle tongue becoming harder and harder with each successive year to accurately recall. A faded glory of how great it once was to be alive for yet another day as set by frequent the example of its absence. A loud and raucous parade that has too long ago marched on.
My Father’s Day