Sunday, May 31, 2009

Good Night and Good Bye....

In February I turned forty-two (I forgive all of you who sent neither a card nor a present). Today, the 31st of May, marks the twenty-eighth anniversary of the Sunday morning on which my sisters Kara and Jill woke me up by telling me that our father was dead. A statement to which I recall - as vividly as if it had just occurred - I responded by saying, "I know."

The evening of the 30th of May, after my father had spent the entire day alone in Harvey's Lake Pennsylvania opening up our summer house to ensure that it was ready for the annual water ski trip he ran for W-H students, which was probably at that point only about ten days away, I made a point of doing something that I rarely did. My father routinely went to bed early (a concession to the maniacal way in which he elected to start his day - at 3:00 a.m.) and usually did so without saying "good night" to me or me to him. There was something in his eyes on the evening of the 30th of May twenty-eight years ago that screamed to me that if I did not say good night to him that night, I would have missed my final opportunity to do so.

I did say "good night" to him before he lumbered off down the hallway towards the master bedroom - and he replied in kind to me. And then I hugged him. All these years later I remain fairly certain that I did so not out of love but as a way of sealing the deal as it were. I stood there, face to face with him in the hallway that connected the living room to the master bedroom, transfixed by the idea that I would not be seeing him again. With that thought in the forefront of my mind, a hug for the road seemed appropriate.

Over the years, from time to time, I would run into someone I knew a lifetime ago when we were all kids who would tell me a story that began with one of the following lead-ins: "Your dad saved my life...."; "I owe so much to your Dad....."; and/or "Adam, you have no idea how much I loved your father...... I have always been at a loss over what to say other than, "Thank you." The fact that the many are describing a relationship with the man that the few (his own half-dozen children) never had makes it hard to think of anything else to say.

About a year ago I did something I thought I would never do - I joined Facebook. I did so because as I get older I develop a better sense of appreciation for those I knew when we were young and a better sense of curiosity about what their lives became from the moment we stepped away from one another. I did so also because the people I was friends with in high school and college are scattered across the country and around the world. As someone who does not really like to travel and who eschews the telephone for anything not work-related, the whole pseudo-social networking that an outlet such as Facebook permits and provides is perfect for me.

The sole downside to it has been that I have actually re-established contact with a legion of folks who I thought I would never hear from again and because most of them are people who went to school with Kara, Jill and I, there are a lot of them who have shared their "Mr. Kenny as Superman" story with me. The increased frequency of the stories has not imbued me with the ability to respond to them with anything better than my old stand-by, "Thank you." Whether these folks understand that I say little because I, otherwise, have little that I wish to share on the subject I know not or simply walk away thinking, "Wow, Adam is still an a##hole. Now I know why I did not speak to him one time over the course of the past twenty-five years" I know not.

At age 42, I have reached the point in my life - on this the 31st of May Aught-Nine - where I have now lived twice as long in the post-Dad era as I did in the with-Dad era. It surprises me still that for such a short, fat (Dad used to tell everyone that he was the ideal weight for someone who was 9 feet tall when he was approximately 5'7") man he threw and continues to throw an enormous shadow.


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