Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011: A Mercifully Brief Retrospective

Beginning January 1st, 2011 was an extraordinary year, a year that will go down in history along with the previous two thousand and ten years, which is where we normally store used years. In history that is. 

Lasting an incredible 12 months it was a year replete with seasons, both cold and hot, holidays celebrated on Mondays in order to insure a steady supply of three day weekends for all except members of Congress who actually put in fewer hours than the chronic unemployed, and the occasional drone attack on worn out terrorists who don’t have Facebook or Wickipedia to keep them abreast of what’s hot in the counter-terrorism community.

So here we are in late December with nothing happening, and like, what better way to light up the coming year than with a retrospective on 2011? Unless of course, like me, you’re just glad it’s over. 

Hello 2012.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

So Long Dad

So Long Dad
June 28, 1928-December 5, 2011
It’s been a couple of weeks now, and I’ve finally got a little time to reflect on Dad’s passing. My sister took Mom home to spend Christmas with her five granddaughters and thirteen great-grandchildren, so Mom’s going to have some joy this Christmas along with the sadness and I’m going to spend the Christmas holidays relaxing with dear friends and renewing my spirit. That warms my heart.
The immediate aftermath of death is exhausting, there’s a mountain of details to be attended to, a funeral to be planned, a grieving 81 year old mother to be comforted, forms to be filled out. There was precious little time to mourn or even just sit and feel my emotions.
So today I think I’ll just write some things down. The sun is shining, a cool breeze rustles the palm fronds, and a feeling of peaceful reflection soothes my heart. Dad was an honorable man, a man of principles, and seriously old school. Right is right and that’s the way he lived. But since he was a man of few words, chatty is not a word that comes to mind when I think of Dad, if you wanted to hear what he believed you were going to have to listen to how he lived.
And since as a child and a young man I heard things with a defective ear, I ended up going all Prodigal Son on him. As a result my relationship with Dad didn’t really start until I was 38. In Luke 15 we hear the parable of the Prodigal Son, and my favorite part of that story is when the father is asked why he’s throwing a celebration at the return of such a loser and he responds, my son was dead and now he lives.
That’s how it went with my Dad, only a few details were different. In early June of 1989 I found myself sitting across from my Dad, broken and homeless, and Dad was yelling at me, talking to me like I was 10 years old not realizing I wasn’t nearly that mature. And the next day he got me to my first meeting of recovery, doing something not many fathers get a chance to do, give life to his son a second time.
It started a little slowly at first, but we finally became a father and son, not some fantasy relationship like in the movies, nothing dramatic, just father and son. I gave him a grandchild, of course by that time he was already a great- grandfather. (I tend to do things a little late.) We had holidays and visits and dinners, nothing for the history books, just father and son.
We went to church together the last ten years of his life, and I remember glancing over and seeing him and Mom holding hands. That’s a nice memory.
The last three years of his life dad was locked in combat with his body, a fight he was losing. But he never surrendered, never gave up. Every once in a while it would overwhelm him, “John,” he’d say, “I’ve finally met a problem I can’t solve.” But he’d shake it off and soldier on.
Dad’s gone now, and I haven’t had time to reflect on the meaning of his life. A year from now maybe the words would be different. But I had a chance, finally, to listen to how he lived and of this I’m sure….when I grow up I’d like to be more like my Dad.