Six months ago, if someone would have told me that I wouldn’t have my Dad much longer, I would have laughed – he’ll live to be two-hundred, maybe even three. Six months ago, my Father was nagging me about getting him the manuscript for The Cuckoo’s Cry, which had already been delayed…and delayed…and delayed. He was going to be one of my editorial critics (he truly believed in me). Six months ago on Sunday, I promised him I’d FEDEX the draft within a week. Six months ago on Tuesday, he was dead.
My Dad was a little hard to get along with; and I must say, I have to admit to the claim of being almost just like him. The rest of my family totally agrees (believe me – this is both a good thing and a not-so-good thing). But as you can guess, my Father molded me into the person I am today – fiercely independent, and outspoken, yet deeply concerned about humanity’s path, and those who can’t do for themselves. He was a psychiatrist – the real, listening-and-I’ll-talk-you-through-it kind; the kind you can hardly find anymore. And as an added bonus, he was really funny (crude sometimes, but funny nonetheless).
And he still liked to call me “kid.”
On Sunday, I promised him the manuscript would be in the FEDEX box very, very soon. On Tuesday, I was frantically driving two hours to the hospital where they’d finally cleared his throat after not getting oxygen for almost an hour-and-a-half. He had choked to death.
They had him hooked up to a ventilator, and tubes, and whatever else that keeps a body alive when the soul has already departed. Just until they could run tests and know for sure. But I knew he was already gone. One day there – to make me laugh and call me “kid” and tell me I was the slowest writer in the universe; two days later gone from my life.
So I sit here in my office every day, looking at his cushy, green armchair next to my desk. The one that could accomodate his size, that he sat in every single weekday, having not had a sick day in 37 years, listening to his patients and helping them sift through their problems, throwing in humor along the way. I see it every day, and wish that one day when I open the door, he’ll be there, just to say “Hi”. At least once.
When we were little, Dad had convinced us that Santa was tired of just eating cookies and milk, and he would much prefer a Big Mac, fries, and a Diet Dr. Pepper. So that’s what we left on the mantle – real food for the already fat man in red.
This is the first Christmas he won’t be here, reading The Night Before Christmas from the little red book with the padded cover that we got when I was eight.
My Dad loved cold weather; he loved Christmas (guess that’s where I get it from). And he loved to say “Bah, Humbug!”.
Merry Christmas, my kindred spirit! I miss you!