Thought I’d shoot you a message with Father’s Day approaching.
You know, Mom and Marc and I have been without you for 27 Father’s Days, and wow, a whole lot has happened. The whole world has changed….completely. I’d fill you in on all of it, but you wouldn’t believe most of it and you’d be pretty unhappy and cynical about it all, I imagine. Ha, maybe you’re better off!
I’m still playing your saxophone. I’m not sorry that I sound more like Sonny Rollins than Stan Getz, though…ha. You’d give me a hard time about that, no doubt, but I feel pretty good about what I’ve accomplished…and you would, too. I’m a LOT better now (and I still worship Stan).
The most important stuff to catch you up on is your grandkids.
Spenser is 17-going-on-30. He’s incredibly empathetic, shares openly, is smart, really funny, and looks a hell of a lot like me/you/Grandpa Eby, which is to say he’s devastatingly handsome. He has a crazy ear for pitch, used to play the trumpet and recently switched to drums. He can be heard (REALLY heard) in his room swinging out to Sinatra and rocking out to Queen on any given day. He only pulls out the trumpet now to unwittingly demonstrate how much better he is than the rest of us, lol (that means “laugh out loud”…you’d hate that).
Mira is 14-going-on-50. She’s a world-changer, deep thinker, and has an amazing amount of broad skills - singing, piano, dancing, ukulele, figure skating…wtf (that means “what the f…” nevermind). She’s really into musical theatre, and she’s great at it. She’s beautiful and kind like her mother and her voice makes me cry, like, always. She also has a dark and mildly twisted sense of humor that you would DEFINITELY appreciate.
It pains me that they’ll never know you like I did, and indeed that they’ll never know you as THEY would have (as a grandfather). It’s just the way it is, it’s not fair, and I get that. But I don’t have to like it.
Sometimes it’s hard for me to process how long you’ve been gone. A few months ago, I was telling the kids some story about how we would laugh at ridiculous things together. One of them asked me, “What was his laugh like?”. It was like a gut punch when I had to answer through a choked voice that I didn’t remember…
…I hate that. It was an innocent enough question, and it was so sweet that they asked...we were just having fun talking. That revelation shocked me, and it reinforced that we will never have those times back once they leave my memory. What a conundrum it is that we struggle to wall off the pain of losing those dear to us, but if we wall it off too much, or avoid talking or thinking about it too much, we also risk losing those important and bittersweet memories along with it. I don’t hide my sadness over losing you from them. I want them to know that it’s important to share the emotions that matter most to us.
In the last nearly three decades, one positive is that I’ve been able to lend a sympathetic ear to my many friends who have lost parents along the way. Just in the last short bit, my friends Ariel, Emma, Chris, and Wally have joined me in this most undesirable club. For some of them, it was a welcome and expected release; for others, it was shocking, sudden, or tragic. We always end up talking about them/their loved one and you/me/us. I always tell them that it never goes away, but it gets easier. I realize more and more as I get older that I don’t WANT it to go away. The more I lose of you to the degrading of my memory, the harder it seems to be.
I don’t know why I felt compelled to write this letter here and now. Due my own pretty strongly held beliefs, I know this letter will never reach its most sacred and desired set of eyes. Maybe it’s age…I’m closer to 50 than 40 now. I’d like to think I have a whole life yet to live, but our shared experience taught us that those assumptions are just that. If I don’t outlive you, I have 5 years left. What would we have done with those five years had you been able to see into the future? Because that’s what I should be doing now. And every other blessed day, month, and year I have left.
I’ll tell you what: One thing we do right around here is say “I love you”. Spenser and Mira can never say they haven’t heard that any less than probably ten times a day. I hope it hasn’t lost meaning for them, because I never say it when I don’t feel it. I hope we said it enough before 1993, because again, I don’t remember. And that sucks. But I atone for it now, even if have nothing to atone for.
It looks like I’ll be home to visit you in the fall, maybe even *on* Halloween – how darkly funny is it to visit a cemetery then? You’d appreciate that. I’ll probably have my friend Ariel with me. It’s still all pretty raw for her, and she’ll have to see that it’s still raw for me all these years later…
…and that’s OK, because it’s real and that’s what matters.
I love you.