I’m just like my old man.
It was hurled at me as a despicable insult for years and years. Despite that, I’ve learned that it’s really true, and I embrace it. Belatedly, but sincerely. When I finally learned how to be happy for being just like my father, a great weight vanished off my shoulders.
Dad died thirty-five years ago today, October 23, 1983. It was a Sunday. He and his wife Betty had been to their church, and he was home doing what he loved most of all: watching football.
He was lying on the sofa in their den, which was more or less an enclosed porch at the edge of a golf course. I don’t know who was playing; an online schedule shows quite a few games that day at 1 PM and thereafter.
This was also the day when 243 Americans were killed in a terror bombing in Beirut.
At some point during that game, Dad died.
I was on the way to Cambridge, Massachusetts from eastern Long Island to visit someone I’ve now lost touch with. I’d crossed Peconic Bay via Shelter Island and driven out to Orient. From there I’d ferried across to New London and driven the rest of the way.
I got the news that night, after a concert by Ravi Shankar and a wonderful curry dinner, plus an excellent ice cream dessert.
It got rainy. We went to a pub in Cambridge, The Plough and Stars, and had a drink. Drove home the next day in a downpour, arriving late. The funeral followed. I was gone from the East End for a week.
Anyway. I am my father’s son–except for football, and one or two other details. I’m my own person, actually, and recognize a bit of my mother in me as well. But no one, ever again, will make me feel ashamed of my father. The main reason I like looking into a mirror (besides that it makes shaving easier) is that I see his face in my own.
Rest in peace, dad. I’m sorry for everything, I forgive everything, and I wish you peace and everlasting life.