Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Crumpled Bits of Paper

I awoke this morning a forty-four year-old man.  I awakened on this very date thirty years ago as a fourteen year-old boy.  I woke up that day to the sound of one of my sisters telling me that our father had died.  All these years later I cannot recall whether the messenger was Kara or Jill.  I know it was not Evan solely because she had already flown from the nest and blazed her own path in the adult world.  I also cannot recall all these years later the look on the face of the messenger when I replied, "I know." 

The final night of my father's life I did something that I rarely did by the time I was a boy of fourteen.  I said good night to him as he shuffled off to bed and even went so far as to give him a hug and a kiss.  Something in his eyes told me that when he disappeared down the hallway into the master bedroom I would never see him alive again.  I was right.

In sports, reference is made often to the "fallacy of the pre-determined outcome".  For example, in baseball a runner gets thrown out trying to steal third base.  On the very next pitch, the batter hits a double into the corner in right field.  Inevitably an announcer will observe that if the base runner had not been thrown out trying to steal then he would have scored when the double was struck on the very next pitch.  The danger in that assertion is that it assumes that all other factors would have remained status quo and only that one thing - the runner being thrown out trying to steal - would have changed. 

In reality, a changed circumstance rarely occurs in a vacuum.  It is impossible for me to say whether I would have lived the life I have lived to date had my father lived.  I know that I would not have lived the life I have lived to date but for my mother.  When both of my parents were alive, I always considered Mom amazing in that she could actually live with Dad.  After he died, I considered her even more amazing for her ability to adapt, to overcome and to live without him.  My father was my father.  My mother is my hero.

And as a forty-four year-old man I know something that was not so readily apparent to the angry, grieving fourteen year-old version of me.  I am forever indebted to both of them.  I belong to them but my mistakes belong to me and to me alone. 

Say it loud.  Say it clear


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