I loved my father.
Fathers and sons playing catch – what is it about throwing that baseball back and forth in the yard, anyway? We did so many other things together, after all. So many things shared and remembered by sons long after Dad has passed away, memories that both stir the heart and catch painfully in the throat.
But that little, repetitive activity was somehow kind of personal and private and precious. Throw and catch, throw and catch, over and over. It was simple, it was fun, and it didn’t intrude on what we shared, the simple pleasure of being together. He was my Dad. I felt like I never wanted this to end, that I just wanted to be with him, to be loved and accepted by him, to someday be just like him.
Now, you’re going to hate me.
The last time I saw my father I was 5 or maybe 6 years old. We never played catch. I don’t remember any kind of conversation with him. He drank. Once in a while over the next few years he’d call. I could hear traffic in the background as he spoke from a phone booth somewhere. Too polite or timid to hang up, I would stand there, listening to his repetitive, awkward, guilt driven words, just hoping the call would end.
When I was in my early 20’s my phone rang. It was my brother, letting me know that my father had died. It meant nothing to me.
I’m older now than my father ever was. Looking back on my life, sometimes I think of him and I say to myself, “Where were you, Dad? Where the hell were you?”
I never did play catch with my father. I bet it would have been great.
June 11, 2017