[Ed. note: originally posted in 2014]
At age 53, I am now one year older than my father was when he died.
For many years, I rarely thought of Daddy. Primarily, I thought about him every January 6, the anniversary of the day he died. Annually, this is a day upon which my mother and I have the same conversation, rehearsed and hushed. I loved him, and one might expect me to have thought of him more often, to have honored him, but I did not, at least not until recently. Before you draw too many conclusions, though, bear in mind that I could not see him clearly.
Have you ever looked through the wrong end of a telescope? The object at which you gaze looks tiny, and slightly blurred at the edges. The object – a tree, a person – is as impossibly distant as the moon is impossibly close when you turn the telescope right way around. When my father died, I had just turned twelve. Although precocious in some ways, I saw him with a child’s eyes, and never after that did my eyes change, at least the eyes with which I saw him. Time passed; I aged, and everything around me changed and aged; but not the eyes with which I struggled to see him. Time passed, but my eyes for my father remained unchanged, a child’s eyes in man’s body. I went further and further down the wrong end of the telescope.
It was only when I became a father, and then approached his death-age and surpassed it, did I understand a little better who he was, and that I could quicken with memory that tiny figure moving in sepia grace at the wrong end of the telescope…