I’m sure this will be of no use to anyone who reads it. I should warn you, the reader, that I’m venting some thoughts from deep below the surface and they might not make very much sense. I’ve been thinking a lot about my father since late 2013. We’d been estranged for a very long time. I briefly met with him twice from 1988 to 2013, a twenty-five year span. Between 2013 and his death a few weeks ago, I met with him two more times. I had lunch with him in Uvalde, Texas when on a road trip to Terlingua at the end of 2013; and in December 2015, two years later, my son and I visited with him for a day when we were on a 4000 mile road trip from Philly through Atlanta, New Orleans, Houston, Uvalde, Dallas, Poplar Bluff, St. Louis, and then back home.
There are many reasons for our estrangement and fewer for our brief reunions, or whatever their label. I won’t go into any of that. My father was a strange man. I can’t say I really know what his motivations were or anything about his personal life. I think his relationship with my mom, wife number three and his fourth marriage, was his longest at approximately eighteen years. One of the odd facts about him was that he had been married eight times or more—twice to the same woman. When questioned about this oddity, he denied the number of marriages in our face-to-face in 2015. I think he denied it because his last wife, and now widow, was only told of four previous wives. At some point, probably after he married for the last time, my brother and I put our heads together and came up with a total number of marriages nearing 8 or so, but I didn’t belabour his denial during our last face-to-face.
The other odd fact about my father was that he had been afflicted with numerous cancers for the last thirty or so years of his life. He had been a lifelong two- to three-pack a day smoker. Even with various and worsening cancers impacting his life from his forties until his death in his seventies, he continued to almost chain smoke cigarettes. When I saw him in 2013 he’d talked at length about his failing health and his struggles with cancer. I kinda felt sorry for the guy until we walked out to the parking lot of the Mexican restaurant at the end of our lunch and I saw a hard pack of cigarettes on the front seat of his pickup truck. I found it ridiculous and incredible that he was still smoking in the face of life threatening health issues, probably caused and exacerbated by his nicotine habit. I immediately lost all pity and sympathy for the man.
Even though we lived as a turbulent familial unit for the eighteen years when I was coming up, I still don’t know much about the man. Living with him was like living with a stranger. I still need to grok the idea of him being truly gone and how he impacted my life. At the end, I probably should have gone to him, but for reasons I won’t go into here, it just didn’t seem like a good idea. I’ll leave off for now. I’m sure I’ll post more about him at some later date. Now that he’s passed, I feel as though the answers to questions I have surrounding his life and motivations have gone from being unknown to probably irretrievably lost and unknowable.