Monday, December 10, 2012
One Last Conversation
The hardest part of losing any loved one is knowing you can never see them again, never have another conversation. During the festivities yesterday, I slipped off to a side room to take a breather, and found my father’s brother sitting alone in the semi-dark by the window. This brother is about the same age as my father, he looks like him, talks like him, moves like him, and his eyes are the same. He was my father’s best friend and best man at his wedding. They spent afternoons together for years. This man is the closest thing on earth to what my father was, and there he was, alone in the semi-dark.
Me and this uncle don’t usually talk. He’s had a hard time with things, losing some of the movement and ability in his right hand and arm from a life in construction. When I saw him there, my first instinct was to wave hello and move along, but for some reason I sat down in the next chair. We spoke for twenty minutes. Every so often he moved painfully in his seat, trying to adjust his arthritic and withered body. We spoke of all things.
A few minutes into the talk I realized I was using my father’s closest brother. In that semi-dark room, I was using my uncle to cheat the one rule of death, and have one last conversation with my father. Yes, for a few moments in time, my father was alive again, morphed up from his brother, if only in the eyes, and voice, and movements. I was able to speak with him. I cheated. And when it was done, I ended the conversation and went back to my wife, leaving my father’s brother alone in the semi-dark.
When my father was alive, we had an up-and-down relationship. It was, at times, a chaotic dynamic, often capable of sparking with intense love or anger. I guess that’s how life goes. The last time I ever saw my dad, we were over at the family house. I was with my wife (then my girlfriend) and dogs, and my mother, brother, and sister were there. The whole family together for dinner at his new dining-room table.
When the food finished, we talked like two grown men. Finally after all those years of chaos, we had reached a mutual peace. This would be the beginning of a great time in life. Later on, when he got tired, he said he was heading to bed. We shook hands and he said, “I’ll see you soon, Brian.” Then I watched him walk off and up the stairs, into the darkness, and I never saw him again, a lifetime of chaos ended so quietly and easily. It was nice to see him again yesterday, if only for a few moments in the semi-dark.