Today I got a call I wasn't expecting from a stranger explaining my dad (not my stepdad) had passed away last week. But they didn't know where to locate his next of kin, so it took a while to track me down. I wasn't super close with my dad. My parents divorced when I was 3 and I have no memories of them together. But I did spend a significant amount of my childhood around him. And the memories I do have are mostly good ones (except for that time he had a brain aneurysm).
What do I know about my dad? He was Marine but he retired long before I was born. He was an alcoholic but that was before my parents got married and that he hadn't had a single drink in well over 35 years. I know that he loved to listen to Gordon Lightfoot. That he was really good at singing two songs to me as a small child, You are my sunshine and K-K-K-Katie. That he had always wanted to write a book but never got around to it. That he has an apartment full of possesions in Northern California and I'm his next of kin which makes me in charge. I considered just letting all that stuff go, but I simply couldn't bear the thought of some stranger carelessly discarding what he took a lifetime to collect.
So tomorrow moring I leave for California to say goodbye. I'm driving and I look forward to the solitude the open road will allow me. And I'm okay with his death, mostly. There is, of course, the guilt. Why didn't I reach out more? How could I be so selfish? Too many times I thought about writing him or picking up the phone, but I simply put it off.
Then I remember, "Every moment wasted looking back keeps us from moving forward. Life is too short, time is too precious and the stakes are too high to dwell on what might have been." And I know, logically, that this is true. But sometimes aligning your heart with your head is much easier said, than done.
The last time I talked to him was probably a good 9 months ago and the last time I saw him was in 2002. I wonder what those last few minutes were like for him. Was he alone? Did he know that people loved him? I really wish I would have taken my own advice a little more seriously. Because never for a single second did I ever doubt his love for me.
If you have something important to say to someone, say it. Stop waiting and say it now.