Anniversary of My Father’s Death

The week of my father’s yarzeit, anniversary of his death.

The passage of time has not revealed who he was to me.

I can list 5 things he liked:

cream filled doughnuts
the Hudson River
money
being right
Ancient Greece

and 5 things he didn’t:

sushi
racism
carpenter bees
Valentine’s Day
crossing a border

In the last years of his life, he was diminished by age, dementia, a stroke, aphasia.

I can’t discount those years and just remember him young.

I wanted his approval—and both got it and didn’t—until the need itself wore out.

He was the only father I’ll ever have. Basically, that is the truth of the situation that remains.

The haiku poet Issa wrote:

Mountains seen also
by my father, like this,
In his winter confinement. (Translation by R.H. Blythe)

The haiku seems to be saying we can’t actually know another person, but maybe just experience together.

mist hangs over
snow mountains my father
never saw

walking stick in snow
how vigorous my father
was at my age

old man
stroked, afraid
of the spring breeze

juncos in snow
he liked them too—
my father