Talking to my dad through letters to the dead.
|March 28, 2015|
I know the intense wall of grief is blocking me from communicating with you. I'm sorry if you don't understand where I've gone, or you're worried because I promised to help but I'm not available.
Your first visitation was awesome, but also excruciatingly painful. You were so real, I never had a doubt that you'd come to see me. But that's normal for me. I've always been more interested in what we cannot see than what we perceive with our eyes. This tendency to allow my mind to wander unbound provides comfort. This life is not everlasting, and at any moment it could all go away. Like you did.
In life, you lived by the textbook. You married your WW2 bride and had five kids. We had the big ranch house in the suburbs. All five siblings went to the college of their choice, due to your wise investments. When Jude's wedding cost more than mine, you sent the monetary difference to me via a check. Who does that?
My life continues to be enriched by you into my adult years. This is something I'm not proud of, but the family understands the circumstances.
You would probably say you pulled yourself up by the bootstraps because that was a popular phrase back in the day. In fact, you showed me a picture of you and one of your brothers standing on a dirt road, both wearing short pants. You said, "See, Bushga? We were just dirt poor farmers."
During WW2, you were leading your men to safety when the enemy (you called them Japs, but that's not politically correct anymore) cowardly shot you in the back. Even though the bullet pierced your lung, you completed your mission and earned a Purple Heart. I still remember fingering the hole in your back, but not understanding your explanation.
Your life was a success story. Somehow or other, you wound up working for a commercial plumbing and heating contractor. The name of the business was Brandales. When I worked in your office during the summer, I laughed every time someone called and asked to speak to Mr. Brandalee.
Mr. Brandalee was an alcoholic, but that's another story. He hired another man your age at the same time and gave you both down payments to buy houses for your families. The monthly mortgage was around fifty dollars, and after a few months of making payments, he purchased both houses for you and the other guy. (I can't remember his name.) Mr. Brandalee just wanted to know that both of you were hard-workers and dedicated to your families. You earned a some sort of degree from a Tradesman college--that part's kind of foggy in my brain.
When Mr. Brandalee died, he gave you and Louis (that's his name!) the business. Together, you and Louis built an extremely profitable business.
You were a dedicated Catholic, and only your God knows how much money you gave the church. I'll admit that in my adult years, when I had so little money, you chose to help the diocese rather than your own daughter. And that stung. But nothing much matters anymore. Does it?
Astute investments earned you a sizable fortune, which you left all to Mom. As it should be.
Dad, what really hit me was the question you asked Mom a few months before you died. "Is this it, then? Is this all?"
You'd lived such a full life and yet still felt unfulfilled. That's an outstanding reality check when I feel useless. Which is most of the time. Don't worry, I won't bother you with my emotions. You didn't approve of them while you were alive, and I bet they are meaningless now that you're gone.
When I die, there'll be nothing left to give to the living. You gave to everyone, Dad. Why wasn't it enough? What more did you want?