A continuance of endings
I lost my mother last April, as readers of this blog may recall. But I also had a father and he died in 2003. Two anecdotes sum up my father. He was the kind of man who’d call you up the day after Christmas to say, “Let’s take your dog down to ride the ferry at Ste. Genevieve.” That ferry was on the Mississippi River and my Dad, knowing I loved history and photography and road trips, drove my dog and me the thirty or so miles to the river to let the adventure unfold. It was a tolerable winter day so we were able to get out of the car on the crossing to watch for eagles and – of course – take pictures. Once in Illinois, Dad drove across the levees to the French Colonial-era Fort de Chartres. A small trading post on the fort grounds was open. Dad, who embraced hobby after hobby, had recently taken up black powder shooting and wanted to talk to the historical reenactor clerking the post. I told Dad I'd wait outside with the dog so he could go in first. Dad said he was sure I could come inside, too. No pets allowed, Dad. So he went inside the store and soon an eighteenth century trader opened the door and beckoned me to bring in the dog. He had a warm fire, he said, and we'd likely be his only visitors on the day after Christmas. The building smelled like history and the fire rising in the pot-bellied stove warmed to the bone. Dad and the trader talked about the particulars of black powder weaponry and I took pictures as my dog splayed out in front of the fire. A typical Dad kind of outing. The second anecdote to describe my father is more short and to the point. He phoned me at work – he called my sisters and me daily after he retired – to ask if I'd meet him at J. C. Penney to help him choose a new suit. He was reuniting with a lot of old friends at all the funerals he was attending and wanted to look his best. Dad planned to attend as many funerals as he could.
I’m not quite at that place in life; but it grows closer as I find myself attending an ascending number of memorials for which I keep a nice pair of slacks. As we enter the holidays, I try not to dwell on Christmases past. I seek the company of the preschool members of our family as often as possible. But the fact remains that this is my first Christmas without parents. Since Mom’s death last April it’s as if, with dispersing their belongings and selling their home, we are removing my parents’ footprints from the face of the Earth. Yet, even as I compose this, I hear my Mom’s voice telling me to get on with my life. Put on your coat and go for a walk. Perhaps, they are still here after all.
I call this photo Last Park with Dad. I took it the last day we spent together in October 2003, at a state park, of course. He was over both the black powder shooting hobby and his motorcycle hobby -
and was talking me into going in halves with him on a camping trailer, God bless him. Here's to parents.
Copyright RC 2016