Sunday, November 15, 2015

Dear Dad, Happy 100th – If only you could have been here

We spent much of the weekend moving a 100 year old man. His wife recently died and his family wanted him to be closer to them. He’s a pretty mellow fellow – likes to eat good food, drink a little wine, read the papers and get a good night’s sleep. He doesn’t get too riled up about anything – always pretty much an even keel fellow. He told me yesterday, “I have to get my mind back in working order.” In January he will be 101.

I talked to my mom today. She’s already 101. She told me today, “I’m 101 and ½.” She’s slowed down somewhat, but her mind is still going 100 MPH.

My dad would have been 100 today. He was born just down the street from where my son lives. Today my son and I worked in the garden, readying it for the winter. He talked to me about his life, his love and his ongoing search for meaning and happiness in life. It wasn't unlike the conversations I had with my dad in days long past.

Sometimes I feel like I am sandwiched in between these two men, my dad and my son, and I wonder how it has been that I have had my share of heartaches but have somehow, through grace and resilience, been able to carry on. The world is on fire all around us and some of us find a way to plod on ahead into an ever uncertain future.

“The march of the immigrant is a lifelong one,” so went the song from a hundred years ago. When my grandparents arrived to this country, along with millions of others looking for new opportunities and for a special kind of freedom, within a few years they had my dad. He was born in a little house, which now is a park. I can only imagine what my grandfather and grandmother must have been feeling on this night 100 years ago.

Tonight it is storming outside. Thunder and lightning. The night my son was born, also at home, it also stormed. So much so that the midwife could traverse the flooded streets and the obstetrician came and helped with the birthing process.

I don’t know what my dad would think about today. I know he was probably too sensitive at times for this world. I also know there was more to him than any of us ever knew. He had dreams, and he had secrets. And he was passionate, sometimes too much. But humans aren’t rocks. They have these moving parts, external and internal that makes them unsure and unpredictable.

I’m kind of glad he isn’t here to see the world we have, especially in these past few days. To not have to hear those of his descendants who, in the impetuousness of their youth, are angry and rattling sabers, and who really have no idea what war looks like. Is this what the march of those immigrants was meant for – to see a generation of children angry and eager for blood? If so, the enemy has won, as they have succeeded in making us like them.

So, dear dad, I will remember you as the great guy that you were who had a lot of dreams and hopes, like my son. Yes, I am sandwiched in between you two in time, but I know both of you are like the bread of hope and love that gives me, the piece of baloney, even greater meaning in my life. And because of hope and love, maybe this world won’t burn quite so fast and furious as it wants to.

I love you, Pop. I wish you could have been here with us today, with me and my son, your grandson. It would have been a good time.

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