Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On Your 71st Birthday


It has become your month now, the month of you, the month in which you both entered and left this world, a month of change and flux, of the onset of colors turned in an instant and then others still coolly green--in many ways, so much like you.

Instead of turning to the end, on this day I have been trying to imagine the beginning, the beginning of you, the you who would become my father, the you who born to who must have been hopeful and proud, the day when you became their son.

I imagine the sky a bright blue, that it was warm for that time of year, that October 14 of 1939 when you came into the world and changed everything.

There are few pictures of you as a little boy, some with your sister, whom you yearned to know in those last months when the end got closer. I remember thinking how remarkable it was, how you let us see your most raw and true self, who yearned nearly sixty years later for the sister who hadn't lived long enough for him to really know. You look so happy in those pictures, in your suit and tie with your little blond sister leaning against you, your eyes crinkling up the way they always did when you laughed hardest.

And then there are the ones of you dressed in ear muffs and coat while your cousin lounges against a fence in a light jacket, the marks of what had been a fearful and overprotective mother.

My favorites are your Little League pictures, the All-Star pitcher with the killer arm. The trophies as tall as you were in your living room next to your mother in a dress, smiling, Gramps in the dugout, you looking serious, not giving the other team anything to go on.

You would like for us to think of those days, I think, when you were so young and hopeful and full of promise.

On my refrigerator I keep a picture of you from your high school yearbook. On it is stamped the words, "Unfinished File," a mark to show it has not yet been touched up, tampered with. Finished.

I don't know if you were finished at the end, Daddy...if any of us ever is.

For me--for us--you will never be finished, for you left behind love--and a missing--that stretches far beyond these days that mark time, these days when everything changed, when you came into and left this world, of this October two years past now, and all of those yet to come.

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