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To say life has been hectic lately would be an understatement. I’m not usually prone to understatements, but I’ve decided to make some changes in 2011. Starting in February.

My mother is in a rehabilitation center recovering from two big strokes and two mini-strokes. Usually I see the MoC I’ve always known – vibrant and strong and optimistic. Sometimes I see the old woman she is becoming. I’m full-on middle-aged and I’m her youngest child. By definition, that makes her old.

My father would have been 78 today. Sometimes I wonder how I would see him now – if I would still see the brilliant, mercurial, impatient man I knew in 1989 or if I would see an old man. If I were being completely honest, which I’ve promised myself I would be, I have to admit I don’t think about him a lot. It took two years after his death for me to cry. And, again being honest, those were selfish tears. He was a pharmacist and I had to go to the doctor to get a prescription for something I’ve long since forgotten. His death inconvenienced me and I cried.

That’s a bit harsh, but there is a grain of truth in it. I didn’t really know him and I didn’t understand him. His sense of humor was razor-sharp and dry as dust – so is MoC’s. I come by it honestly. He had a great thirst for knowledge and he read to learn because that was entertainment for him. I didn’t get that gene, but MMB did. She got a Master’s degree simply because she liked school. Weirdo.

I remember the night he died. I remember watching him take his last breath. I remember wondering what would happen next for him. I remember getting in the car that night to go home and I remember the song that was on the radio. Elton John’s “Funeral for a Friend.” I remember thinking my dad would have appreciated the surrealism of that moment.

He was hard to know – kind of like me. He didn’t trust a lot of people – kind of like me. He was also generous and kind (mostly), artistic and highly creative, but sometimes rigid, unbending and unforgiving. I used to think he was just an evil bastard, but I’ve come to understand that the circumstances of his life made him a little bitter. After doing a little research on the family tree, I think he was also bi-polar. My own journey has made it possible to see and understand that.

I’ve come to terms with the past. Before he died, I was able to begin to forgive him. That whole process took a few years, but being able to forgive him helped me see the whole person, as much as I was able.

My father loved The Little River Band – he always called them The Little River Boys. I heard ‘Lonesome Loser’ today. And probably for the first time, I listened to the words.

He don’t show what goes on in his head,
but if you watch very close, you’ll see it all.

It took 21 years, but I miss him.

rich20 mom20

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