I received a call this evening from my stepsister. My dad passed away sometime early this morning. He was battling a malignant brain tumor, and the last time I spoke to him, he actually sounded a bit better. I was hopeful and planned on going to see him in the next month or so. I won't be able to make his funeral on Monday, the tightening of the proverbial money belt has hit so many of us these days, but I do still plan on heading for St. Paul some time to see Sandy, my stepmom, and to visit Dad's grave.
Somewhere I have a picture of Dad giving my first bottle at home on December 24th, 1969. It is the only picture I have of my dad and me. Actually, it is one of only two or three pictures I have of my dad. He wasn't one for having his photo taken. He was the photographer. Any time I visited him (my parents were divorced when I was 4), he seemed to always have a camera at the ready.
Years ago I wrote an essay about how trains reminded me of Dad. He worked for the C&NW railroad. The essay sat on my computer for the longest time until I took it out and dusted it off last year, sending it in to Western North Carolina Woman Magazine for their Y Chromosome issue. That essay can still be found at http://www.wncwoman.com/june08/page38.html.
Dad and I have never been very close. He wasn't an easy person to get close to. But over the past several years, we kind of found a place where we at least knew what was going on in the other's life. We talked on the phone once in a while, and we emailed each other a bit. (Dad was never a letter writer, so when email came around, it was perfect.) In the last couple of years, Dad seemed different, like maybe he was realizing what he missed out on as the years sailed by.
I didn't grow up with my dad around, so I used to think he really had no influence with me. But, to paraphrase a comment left by Vicki Lane on yesterday's blog, when it comes to parents, even when they're not around, there's still a relationship. For better or worse, they are a part of your life. You just have to take what ever they give you and go from there.
Goodbye, Dad. I will miss you.