Making Meaning of the Madness

Chapter 12


Aside from one or two brief comments, I have not written about my father or the role he played in all of this. I always felt he got cheated by circumstance. I was so consumed with my son's death there wasn't enough room left to grieve for Dad. It has been only lately, now that time has filtered through some of the emotions and residuals of Jeff's death, that I have been able to reflect on Dad's life and all the good he brought to us.

I was the firstborn of five, therefore the test case. I was the medium through which he learned to be a parent. We had agreements, but from a youth's perspective, there were more disagreements. Neither of us did everything right, but in fairness to him, I don't think he had ever been a teenager. The "Thirties" did that to people. As a result, when he reached to talk to me, he didn't know the language.

As soon as school was over, I headed to the prairie for thirty years to make a life for myself. We had our differences, but I always loved him and I always respected the ideals for which he stood—honesty, integrity, responsibility, love for family, intestinal fortitude. And as much as I wanted my own life, I found as the years passed, often when I opened my mouth, out popped my Dad. While circumstance didn't allow grieving time, I am happy I was with him the night he died. Somehow being there was fitting.

As soon as Dad died I was bothered that the stress of Jeff's suicide had been a factor in Dad's aneurysm. My doctor assured me the ten days my father spent removing an old log cabin and blackberry patch by hand had much more to do with the aneurysm than the shock of losing his grandson. I certainly hope that was the case, because if it was, my father died happy. He loved his "farm", not so much for the land, but for the work it provided. Two of Dad's primary ambitions in life were to keep his family together and to work. With Mom's help, he achieved both.

I wonder at the way life unfolds. I remember the dream down by the river when I saw the two trout. I don't believe in grand design, but I do wonder now about matters that seem coincidence.

When he wasn't working, Dad loved to fish and to play tennis. I hope he is teaching Jeff to use a fly rod. I hope, too, he is fine tuning Jeff's back hand. Diana, Michael and I fish, and we play tennis. I like to think that when the time comes, we'll be doing those things together.

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