A moment frozen perfect in time.

And into far wide great fields
Upon wings of freedom
My soul released
And eyes no longer blind
I shall fly away
A great horse in stride
The sun beneath me
I shall fly.

It was two years ago today I last saw my father alive. It’s a strange anniversary to remember. But I do. I cling to the memory like an amulet or a totem. Because as it was my last memory of my father is perfect. It was exactly as it should be.

We were standing at the door of my downstairs apartment him in front of me. I was cradling my 11 week old daughter against my chest and he leaned over gently and kissed her forehead and said “Goodbye baby, I love you and I’ll see you again real soon.” He then looked at me and said “I’ll talk to you soon” and he said as a goodbye “I’m proud of you son.” And then I watched him slowly go up the stairs and out the door. Slow and struggling a life of abuse and hurt being carried all over him. But for a few seconds there the veil of time and the hurt and the past were all lifted away and he was a strong and clear man again. And he was my father and my child’s grandfather.

Two weeks later I’d be standing in his bedroom looking at his now lifeless body laying on the floor. I can’t say what I thought just then. Aside from some strange pain, foreign and new. And I watched them carry him away a little later and spoke to the police and the coroner. And it was done. A life over. I went back into the room after my mother and brother finally slept and opened the windows to air out the smell of death. And then I noticed almost everywhere I looked there were pictures of my little girl. Ruby was all over his room, it was room he spent most of his time in. As men like him do he’d retreated and denned himself in there. And his whole world was there in this room which had at one time been my childhood bedroom. And it became clear that Ruby had in less than three short months become the star in his world. The sun and moon. He loved her so much. He was in love with her. She looked like us and she sounded like us and she was us. My brother had a son 3 weeks before I had her and my dad would quietly call Ruby “A real Romanovitch baby.” and my mother would chide him because he had two grandkids. But I knew what he meant. And she was, she was his legacy, the legacy of a family that goes back to Eastern Europe. But more than that she was everything he ever wanted in a grandchild, from the pretty blonde hair and blue eyes to the attitude and temperament. He’d have been so delighted in the little person she is becoming.

So it is such a tragedy and loss he’s gone and my family fell apart. But even in the midst of my hurt and tears (I cried a bit while just writing this) there are blessings. God gifted me with two great and powerful moments to hold onto. He gave me the gift of the father I always wanted for just those final moments. And it’s what I think about when I think of my Dad. He wasn’t perfect, but somehow perfect.

The thing at the beginning of this post is an unfinished thing I found recently, I don’t really remember writing it. But I like it.


2 responses

  1. Hi JR – I found my way over here after you commented on my blog. Your writing is incredible. What I want to say most is…keep writing. You will come out on the other side. Every hero has a dark night of the soul, but they make it out. I was so touched by what you wrote about your father, especially, “he wasn’t perfect, but somehow perfect.” You’ve captured the paradox of living in that single line. Thanks.

    October 12, 2009 at 2:23 am

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