I was at The Mudroom recently, where I wrote about my father. Even that term – father – is foreign to me, as was the man the term describes. “Dad” is worse, perhaps because it seems more personal. “Papa” – which is what I remember calling him at times – is entirely too personal. If the very term is this complicated for me, imagine the relationship.
I have a handful of memories of my father. I mull them over from time to time, because I used to have more.
My father died the summer before I turned eight. My mom and I were out for the day; I was playing at the shoreline of a small lake while she read a book. I was collecting sticks and wading in the water when she suddenly said that we needed to go home. I wasn’t ready, so I continued poking along in the sand until she became insistent and I could hear something odd in her voice. After she drove the half hour home, we learned that my father had died earlier that day.