Don't know what inspired me, maybe the two days of nonstop drinking, but I (while sober) went down to Bourne MA to the National Veterans Cemetary and went to view my dad's headstone for the first time. IT WAS A POWERFUL MOMENT. I capitalize it because I was alone, and in a great mood when I showed up. It's been a year and a half since he died. At any rate, I was doing well. I found his stone easily. His name appeared, his dates of birth and death, his rank in the navy, war service, and then the quote. I saw the quote, and I cried like a child. "Beloved father and husband, gone home to God."
I got self-conscious. It was so quiet, lovely and peaceful at the cemetery. I was on this hillside, and out of the blue, I'm bawling like the funeral was 20 minutes ago instead of two years come September. I miss my dad, so fucking much . Christ, my wife just came in, hearing me sniffling. Funny how things trigger memories. After a year and a half, I'm so glad that the memories that come up are so positive. My brother, going through horrific drug withdrawal, after getting hooked on Oxycontin after his 5th unsuccessful back surgery, laughing with my dad because he's carrying my father to the bathroom rather than making my dad figure out how to use a wheelchair. My dad calls my brother a fag. My brother calling my father a fossil. My mother, talking about how on their 5th anniversary my father shot a hole through the wall in the kitchen because, despite having lived through a shore assault and several bombardments in Korea, my father never learned how to handle a rifle. My father (and this one I remember), being told he had a year or two to live, saying "kids like you have told me that for over 20 years." My father saying to the same doctor "I've seen you become a husband and a father, and now a grandfather. Do I need to finalize my will?" When my dad died, that same doctor called 20 minutes later, and cried with all of us, and laughed when I sent him a thank-you card containing a naked Asian bodybuilder (you'd have to be there to understand).
At the end of the day, my father lived a life worth celebrating. I miss him some days. Some days I don't think about him, and the loss of him. My father would have slapped me for swearing as a kid. As an adult, as a former sailor, he never indulged in colorful language, but laughed his ass off when I cussed at the dinner table. My mom, all 95 lbs and 4-11 of her, would laugh her ass off too, were I to swear at the table, now. As a kid, cussing in her house was the kiss of death. As an adult, it was a standing joke. My first true trip to sea, I came back, having sailed into Quincy, MA, and had dinner at mom's house. I said, at some point, "Ma, can I have the fucking salt?" and then, horrified, gasped, awaiting my mother to unleash hell. She and my dad laughed long and hard- he would do the same, the first night he was home from sea. Of my brothers and sister, sailors all, for the most part, none got that hall pass; just me. When, horrified, I said, as an apology "Oh, fuck, sorry. I'm always fucking up shit I say," my father went into laughing paroxysms, laughing without making a sound. My mother, with disapproving eyes, accepted it.
The 'Gone Home To God' is killing me. My dad was trapped inside a failing body for 25 years. He spent those years living well. I can't help wonder what a fitting epitaph would be for me, if I died tonight. "He tried, dammit" would work. Maybe "we never had the heart to tell him he looked like he had water on the brain." I dunno.
I kid, but I miss him.This is the next-to-last picture I have of my dad, taken about 4 months before he passed on, at his last hospital stay. My wife ended up falling asleep in the hospital bed with my father. It was 4am, and the two of them were exhausted. After 30 years of heart disease, heroic doses of drugs and three bouts with cancer, my father still had more hair than I do. Son of a bitch.