Between the Lines
I have often wanted to write about my father, but the process has been fitful, and more like a journal than a book or story. It is more of a puzzle, really. I have bits and pieces of him available to me, and the rest is speculation. Or perhaps all of it is speculation. I knew him but I didn't know him. When he was hit by a car three years ago, his mind was already failing, but that event pretty much eliminated any hope we had of any kind of substantial recovery.
We were just glad he was alive. Many long moments in the ICU stretched into uncertain hours, and when it was finally time to wheel him out of the hospital we thought the worst was over. But that long moment never ended. It ebbs and flows now, and most days he says nothing and does not look at us with any sort of recognition. It is a happy event when he smiles and makes eye contact, and worth a phone call when he speaks.
The peculiar part of all this is that it doesn't feel much different than before the accident, except that he can no longer disappear or make unexpected withdrawals from the bank account. My mother knew that his forgetfulness was getting to be a problem when her bank balance fluctuated by the thousands, and my father had no knowledge of why. When she started finding wads of cash in odd cubbyholes and at the backs of drawers, she knew that it was time to get his permission to restrict the amount of money he could take out of the bank.
Before his decline, when his memory was intact, the distance between us was shorter, but there was always a filter: alcohol, tobacco, or a closed door. He chose when to make contact, and did not welcome unexpected visitors. He did, however, welcome any and all queries about his drawings, and would stay up all night talking about it if you wanted to. Although he wasn't interested in showing his work, he did appreciate individual attention, and would often give away his best pieces to the people who appreciated it most.
8 x 10, link on paper.