To my Father

Hey Dad!

Been thinking about you a lot today, so I figured I'd write to you and let you know how my day is going.  I had to get up early (for me, anyway) and drive to Pawhuska today.  I was nervous, because I had to appear before a judge and possibly testify.  I remember you telling me about testifying when you had that car accident back in the mid-nineties.  Didn't you get t-boned by a Jenks driving instructor?  I remember it being ridiculous on some level.  Anyway, this wasn't for any kind of accident; it was to settle your estate.  Still, it was a courtroom and I'd never been in one before.

I accidentally turned my alarm off this morning, but ended up being okay; I woke up three minutes after my 'final snooze' deadline all on my own.  Thanks for that.  I had set out a nice shirt, one of your ties, and a jacket to wear.  I understand you're supposed to dress up for court.  I grabbed your tie bar, too; the one with the embossed 'M' on it.  I felt it would be a subtle yet sharp way to let the world know I am your son.  I left the house a little before 8:30 and hit the road.

They've opened the Quicktrip at Highway 75 and Highway 20.  I know how often you made this drive, and know that you would've appreciated having it out here.  I stopped and got coffee.  When I arrived in Pawhuska, I noted the new Mcdonald's was open, too.  You had always complained about the lack of food options in P-town, and I'm sorry you weren't there to take advantage of it.  No matter; I wasn't hungry.  Before long I found myself sitting with my lawyer, going over last minute details and possible questions the judge may ask me.  I remember remarking fondly about the fact that he used a lot of Big Chief tablets to take notes, however it now wore on me, as he wasn't well organized.  I helped him with some math to take care of our final creditors and we went to the courthouse on time.

At the Osage County Courthouse, if you didn't know, the Probate Court time takes place right after domestic dispute cases, stuff like restraining orders.  I sat in the courtroom and listened to a few cases before it was my turn and tried to avoid eye contact.  I felt like I'd tapped into personal phone conversations, and emotions were high.  Before I knew it, it was time for our case.  My palms were sweaty but I walked tall to the front and sat in front of the judge.  He and my lawyer (a former judge himself) had a friendly banter regarding the required information, the judge asked me if everything was in order, and signed off.  Way easier than I expected, and I was relieved.

As I walked out of the court house, the sun came out for a little bit.  Thanks for that, too.  It's been a rough 24 hours as I prepared to lay this last task to rest before moving on in earnest.  I still hear your laugh and still look at my phone, hoping you will call me, though I know that time is now long past.  It's been three months since my world changed, but I'm managing okay.  I have a lot of friends and family that have helped me.  I also have you to talk to, anytime, and for that I am thankful.

Miss you, Dad.  Love you.  I've enclosed a picture of myself and the Mustang; I want you to know I'm taking extra special care of it for you.



Tomorrow morning, I drive to Pawhuska and appear before a judge.  Dad's estate gets finalized, and the legal side of my father's passing will be completed.  All his bills will be paid, and I will be free to move on from the paperwork, signatures, haggling with creditors, and stresses of fairly splitting what's left between me and my brother.

I got the oil changed in the Mustang last week.  One of the guys at Jiffy Lube asked some questions about the car's history and I mentioned that I wasn't sure, as it belonged to my father and he passed in January.  The guy said, "Oh, that just happened.  I'm sorry to hear that."

What do you mean, it just happened?  Tomorrow marks three months since Dad was found.  It feels like an eternity.  It's like he's been gone for years.  It's something I feel like I've always lived with.  Some mornings I wake up and just sit, not thinking about anything specific except how little I want to interact with the outside world.  I want to run away to some exotic place where I can focus on new experiences and get to know new people so I don't have to dwell on the old familiar aches.

I'm a very empathetic person.  I consider it one of my greatest traits.  In the last three months, I've felt that reservoir deplete and there are times when I don't feel anything for others.  It's not a callous thing; it's like going to take a drink from a glass that is empty.  I don't break down very much any more, but I feel so emotionally lethargic.  I'm dating an awesome girl, and we have great times together, yet there are times I just shut off.  I'm happy when Mom or my brother calls me, but I don't always want to see them, though my heart aches for their company more now that I've been touched by absence.  As I've mentioned before, I feel like I live in a world of contradiction.

At least tomorrow will bring some closure.  I can stop pouring energy into that aspect of the long goodbye and maybe save some of it up again.  Dad's birthday is on May 3rd, Lord knows I'm going to need it then.


Thirty Years

April 7th, 1981.  The Soviet Union was the big scare in the newspapers.  Ronald Reagan was still in the hospital from his assassination attempt. "Rapture" by Blondie was #1 on the radio.  The Tulsa World spoke about a new downtown renovation project for the Brady district.

At 11:45 AM, I was born.  I was only 2 lbs 10 oz and 16 inches long.  Before I entered the world, the doctor told my folks not to even name me due to how early I was, seeing as how I wasn't supposed to be here until early June.  A few hours after I had entered the world at St. Francis Hospital, Dad excused himself from the room and came back a few minutes later, telling Mom that I would be okay; he had a talk with God and had straightened everything out.

I was definitely okay.  When I was six, we moved from Claremore to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma to follow Dad's promotion at work.  I celebrated my seventh birthday at McDonald's among new friends, though my mother tells me I was concerned that they would sing Happy Birthday to me.  For as long as I can remember, I've had this deep dislike for the traditional 'Happy Birthday' song and avoided it at all costs, including skipping a few friend's parties.

When I was ten, we were in Springfield, MO at a Food Show.  In the grocery industry, distributors used to have big annual conventions where companies could showcase their newest products and deals could be negotiated in person between grocery operators and suppliers.  1991 lined up with my birthday and we went out to Hemingway's Restaurant at the Bass Pro Shop.  They sang Happy Birthday to me and I was mortified.  I made my parents promise to never do that to me again, though Dad greatly enjoyed teasing me about it every year thereafter.

When I turned sixteen, Dad sold me my first car, his 1988 Merkur Scorpio, for $1.  I absolutely loved that car and drove it until it became too expensive to fix.  There are dozens places along Highway 75 between Tulsa and Topeka, KS that hold memories of me pulling over for various reasons.  When I finally sold it in 2003, I wept.

Most of my birthdays at home were celebrated with going out to dinner (to a place of my choosing, seems like it was always Goldie's) and a movie.  One year we went to Disney World in Orlando.  Once I left home and lived on my own, I kept up that tradition for the most part, now accompanied by a phone call from my brother and parents, and a card from my grandparents.  When I turned 23, Indi organized a surprise birthday party at Hideway Pizza on Cherry Street with my family and friends.  My 28th birthday coincided with our Farewell Party at the VFW on Peoria, as we would shortly be setting out to travel the world.

Looking back, I've had a really good run so far.  I wouldn't change a thing about myself.  I love my family and my friends very much, and everyone has had a hand in shaping me into the man I am now.  I try not to think about the fact that I'm only going to hear from Mom this year, but as I get closer it gets harder.  It's been a long while since I've had 'family celebrations' for my birthday but there's usually still been dinner involved.  Last year, Dad bought mine even though he couldn't afford it and it went straight on his credit card.  I never in a million years thought it would be our last one together.  That's the way it works, though.

I don't work on Thursday, and I think celebrating with dinner and a movie (even if the movie is at my house) is in order.  I have a party planned this coming Saturday, too.  I'm really looking forward to that.