Four Years AF
Losing your father is hard. But losing all he represents can be as hard.
My wife still has her childhood home and hometown full of friends. We live there much of the time. When you've lived as many places as I, you have several "childhood homes." There's Straffan, Ireland, and Dublin, where I'm sure many of the same people still live. There's Sylva, North Carolina, where I spent most of my high school days. And there's Cedar Bluff/Pounding Mill/Richlands, Virginia, where my father's family is from. And at a certain point in my life, all the old ladies of the area began to die off. Cousins moved away. Then my uncle Mike, followed shortly thereafter by my father. And Magic Mart, my favorite toy store all my life, also gone.
Now only my Aunt Yvonne remains in the area, along with the restaurant she and Mike started -- but she's handed it over to new management, which isn't quite the same even though it's longtime employees. And it's still great to see the old staff, though it's jarring to see menu items spelled correctly in place of my uncle's deliberate typos. But with my father gone, and his house now basically condemnable, all those summers in Virginia that were just him and me move firmly into the "past" column, no longer present. Working my first job as a busboy, and spending my entire paycheck on GI Joe. Renting movies daily because we couldn't get a TV signal, and catching up on all the R-rated classics I hadn't been able to see. Crushing pennies on the railroad tracks. Going to the local gym as my dad hopelessly hit on female bodybuilders.
Sometimes it wasn't all fun. I found an old diary of mine lately that is 90% me venting about how much I hated him, not because he was a bad dad but because he could be clueless and gross. Still, I think of the times he tried to be selfless and decide it was more important to stay with my mother than him, and see that reflected in The Last of Us when Pedro Pascal thought Bella Ramsey would be "better off" with his brother, and it hits home -- dear god, don't be so fucking clueless as to think somebody else is better when your love is stronger than theirs. Ever.
I miss him. I miss the past. I know my life is better now in most every quantifiable way.
But the loss still lingers.