His Ready Smile

The first anniversary of my father’s death is two weeks from today (Monday), and I realize that he and I spoke only briefly after I left home. Almost always about books, and if not what we were reading, stories about who he’d run into and what they were doing, leading into memories of people, places, and events.

Dad left so many papers and photographs. I got a nagging feeling for a while, that I should have kept and read at least some of them. He was very important to me in my youngest years. He gave me the gifts of literature and knowledge and the freedom to pursue them without hindrance. Once I had learned how to read, he treated me as an adult, when it came to choices in books, magazines, and interests in general.

It is odd that I do not care—really, I do not!—what he may have written to me. Thoughts that he might have left behind. He would have mentioned having left a note. Instead, he would offer books to me from his library during those last years and months. When he had something that he wanted to say to me, he said it. Nothing was left unsaid.

We had a deep bond in  several ways aside from books and discussion. Our care for his wife, my mother. He would almost always, once he’d greeted me on the phone or at the beginning of a visit, he would hand the phone to Mother or wander off into another room to give her plenty of room to visit…without competition?

Left to his own devices, Father could talk for hours, always saying something. He and I had our moments—fond memories—but Mother’s needs came first for both of us. She needed to be cherished. She needed to be the center of creation. Dad was always there for her. Well, sometimes he had to get out of the house to take his walks and have coffee with old friends and new, but otherwise, he was always available for her. They traveled a lot. Enjoyed one another’s company. Never mind the complaining from either one.

He died 103 days after she did. Unexplained (?) death. No apparent cause other than not taking in another breath. I think that the last words that we said to each other were “I love you”…”I love you, too” as we hugged. It did not occur to me that he would die before I could see him again.

There was nothing left unsaid. If I were to see him again? In a dream, perhaps? It would be “I love you, too. We’re still good.”

His Ready Smile

 

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