This Saturday would be my father’s 78th birthday, if he were still alive. Instead, it’ll be another day of ghost feelings; one where the thought of him will linger but not stay ever present, and another year where I’ll struggle to imagine what life would be like if he were still around.
The idea of him being alive still becomes more difficult to conjure with each day, as potentially bad as that may be to admit. Nonetheless, it’s true; so much of my life now is entirely alien to how it was before he died. I wonder, often, how he would have dealt with my divorce, or, a decade earlier, the move to Portland — he would have liked it here, I always imagine — or even just my day-to-day life. I didn’t become a full time writer until after his death; given his own ambitions in that direction, I often wish he could have seen that.
(I have many childhood memories of standing in the office, surrounded by piles of paper next to a typewriter that were explained away as my dad’s novel-in-progress. I never read them, which I regret more and more as I get older, but I also have no memory of my dad ever sitting at that typewriter and working, so perhaps the novel never actually existed…?)
As terrible as it is to say, I don’t actually think of him, or my mother, often. During big life events, or around their birthdays, or Christmas. (My dad died on Christmas Eve.) I feel guilty about that, as if I should be keeping them in my heart and mind more often, but I also know that both would find that idea suspicious, if not downright ridiculous.
Perhaps the most fitting tribute I can pay is just to do my best going forward, but every now and then, I find myself imagining if they’d stuck around, if things had been different.