My memories of the man are very murky. I do not remember much. He took me duck pin bowling when I was 7. A thought that is so vague and so minor in the whole of my life that it is represented by a vision of me from behind carrying a tiny bowling ball to a lane while wearing borrowed shoes. Did it really happen?
He was thin, very very thin and grew a super bushy mustache that covered his mouth. The kind I was sure had tiny creatures hiding in it.
Once when I was a young adult, and I was in his town and his ex-wife was dying of cancer in a hospital nearby, he took me out to brunch and spent the entire time talking about himself and getting drunk. It was a monologue of self-importance and self-pity. I was bored. I hated him. I was indifferent. His ex-wife was someone I loved, and I needed to go to her. Instead he yammered, and I patiently listened. He was defending his decision to leave her or something.
I see him waiting in the wings at my high school graduation. He was afraid to be seen because there would be fireworks, but he needed to come to see his son graduate. His son was my cousin. I see the man waiting at the end of my driveway. He wore a grey suit. I didn’t pay attention in the way that 18 year olds don’t pay attention. He gave me a gift and I cannot for the life of me remember what it was, but I think it was inscribed.
He tried to friend me on facebook, and I ignored it.
He died of cancer earlier this month. He had several large brain tumors that eventually stopped his ability to speak. I don’t know if he could hear or understand. At the end he stopped drinking. Stopped talking about himself. I can’t even tell you that it was sad. It just was the end. His end. Not many people were there to witness the end. A caretaker. His son a few weeks prior. I didn’t even feel a wrinkle in the wind when he died.
Yet, somehow there is a quiet grief in my heart. He hurt people. I know that because he hurt people I love. He had a lot of money and then he didn’t. He drank a lot. He took up a lot of space. He was someone. He was no one. I decide that my grief is over all the lost opportunities. All the ways he failed, and how no one saw he tried. My grief is that he died alone and no one heard his last confession. He had no chance to apologize or make amends. Perhaps there was a man there who tried to love the best way he knew how and just failed. Perhaps this is what he would have said if he could. I tried. I took you kids duck pin bowling.
Wherever you are in the cosmos RH, I hope someone is listening. Rest in peace.
~ALC for the PGM