Tag Archives: fathers

dead

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We make an ofrenda, which is an altar for the Day of the Dead. I bring photos of a father, grandparents, an uncle, a sister. Among them is a suicide, an alcoholic, a poet too gentle for this life, women who had to scramble to survive or live with men who treated them badly. Few died with any semblance of peace.

I offer chocolates and mums, a pencil for the poet, a cigarette for the smokers. What I wish I could give them is another pass at life, for too much of theirs was stark and unforgiving. Some of it was character, some of it was heritage, some of it was cultural.

Do not go gentle into that dark night, wails a poem. But why not? Why fight against the dying of the light? For we all must die. It’s the last clause in the contract made with being born. What unseen can I offer my dead, who have gone on before me? Courage to amend mistakes and character flaws with unflinching honesty? The never ending weeding of my inner garden? Loving what is? Love?

For them. For me. For it all. Forever and ever. Amen.

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hey, dad

My father was a peddler at heart. He made his living (and ours) as a captain in the merchant marines, but he would buy all kinds of things (clocks, beer mugs, straw hats, even a pontoon once) and bring them home with the idea of selling them. They always ended in our garage or on shelves in the kitchen. One time he bought a truckload of local watermelons and set himself up as a one-man roadside stand on the highway between our home and another town. My mother was embarrassed. My father was sunburned and didn’t sell any. He was always picking up excess lumber and building materials as he drove around town. Then he’d drop them off at whatever child lived nearest. He had grown up on a farm, and a spring garden was in our back yard every year, as well as as many fruit trees as he could plant. (Since he merchant marined for a living, our mother was the farm hand.) He’s been gone a long time out on that eternal sea. I wouldn’t mind him driving up, walking into my house in his long-legged, restless stride, and then showing me what was in the back of his truck just once more.