Ten years ago this evening, I was on my way home from having beared witness to my father’s passing. Lost, and more than a little alone, the drive home from my sister’s was surreal. I honestly can’t remember much of the half-hour drive. Even today, ten years later, I still goof the details. Like scheduling my remembrance on July 1 instead of July 6 for some reason.
I could get maudlin and tell you about how that flub fits in with just about everything about my dad – despite my best efforts, I always let circumstances get away from me instead of taking control of them. Even at his funeral, the priest almost forgot to let me deliver the eulogy and I didn’t stand up vociferously enough.
Instead, I’m going to choose to focus on what I did do, because I’m pretty sure that’s what he would have chosen to see – effortlessly, doubtless – because he didn’t spend too much time on himself, he did however spend a lot of time on his family. On duty, and on love.
When I had the opportunity, I asked him to be my best man. I wanted him to be beside me at my wedding.
Honestly, that’s the only thing I can think of. Literally the only thing. Everything else seems disappointing. I didn’t make the speech for him that I wanted to because I let the coked-out wedding DJ blow past it.
I didn’t spend the time with him that I needed to. I don’t think I ever really showed him how much I wanted to be like him from the time I was 12. I don’t know that he ever really understood just how important he was to me. Christ, 24-hours before he died I was telling him that I had something else to do other than seeing him. Why is it that everything I can think of has me failing, why can’t I seem to match up? I’m not at all sure that he held me to that standard, why am I holding myself to that?
So, here I am, ten years to the day, perhaps even to the hour, that I’m ruminating on my relationship with my father on the day he passed. Holding myself to a standard that I’m not sure he held me to. I’m sure he didn’t see his value: his brothers both fought in World War II, he spent the Korean War in military school. He chose a cemetery plot in a direct line from his father’s. He spent a life time trying to live up to his father and brothers and I wonder if because of that he let me off the hook. Perhaps I was the beneficiary of low expectations.
He was a good man, and he deserved so much more from life. I’m proud he was my father, I just hope he knew that. I loved the man and I’m sure he knew that, so perhaps I wasn’t as big a failure as I fear. I just wish I knew for sure.
2 thoughts on “Ruminations on a Decade”
I acknowledge that I have been but an observer to the times and process you describe; I submit that I have been an attentive observer.
One who could not get you to do things early on many Sundays because that was the day you took your father to Mass. Not because Mass was important to you, but because it was important to him and he was important to you.
One who stood with him at your wedding and said the words I’ve relayed before. “Mr. Morrissey, you must be very proud.” One who watched him pause for a long second before he said “I look at him and I just can’t believe it.”
That man who shaped his livelihood and your childhood with the epic strength of his hands saw what you do not see in this post. Degrees. Friends. Jobs. Manners. Morals.
And then he saw Delaney and Daegan. And the happiness of your home. I recognized long ago that whatever becomes of my 30-year dream of publishing a novel, it is the happiness, health, and strength of my daughter that will be my masterpiece.
There are many masterpieces in your life. Give your father the posthumous gift of seeing them with his eyes. You will never see them the same way again.