He came knocking Friday dusk. My Father. He said he came to say good-bye. It was true that he and my Mother had been packing their belongings all week to be ready for the moving van due Saturday. I had been helping them. I would be helping them tomorrow. So. It wasn’t that my Father was saying good-bye exactly. He came to say something else, something more.
We sat in my living room. Dusk gave way to night. The lamp from the kitchen bathed his face in half-light as he sat and spoke quietly. The tone was melancholy. It wasn’t a conversation per se. More a soliloquy. He spoke about his life, the triumphs, joys and hardships...and his exhaustion. I saw clearly how a lifetime of manual labor had destroyed his vitality. I had been begging him to retire, daily witness to the damage done.
He didn’t want to leave. Didn’t want to leave his children. But he knew there was little more he could do for us, for we were adults now. I was in my early thirties, well-launched into my own orbit. True, the orbit was somewhat erratic, but I had achieved professional success, so much so that I now supported my parents. He knew his life’s work was substantially complete.
I said little, for I knew he knew how it broke my heart to contemplate the miles that would separate us (though I came to criss-cross those miles often enough). We both knew he desperately needed respite from Life’s travails.
In truth, I don’t remember the specifics of this conversation. What I remember, vividly, was the astonishment in his voice when he said “Time flies SO fast.”
Four years later, he was dead.
* * *
* * *
I started flashing on this conversation several months ago. I hadn’t thought of it for decades. Then it came to me one silent night and has lingered ever since. Three decades later, and I find myself exhausted, seeking respite from Life’s travails. Only now, do I truly understand what my Father felt.
* * *
* * *