"What must I do to make the dead at last agree to speak to me in my dreams?"
All Rivers Run to the Sea, Eli Wiesel
November 30th, Daddy's birthday. If he were still living, he would be 92 years old. But he's been gone for eighteen years now.
He was 62 when he got his pacemaker which gave him another ten years. Some of those years were good but too many were not, as he developed cardio myopathy, which is medical jargon for a weak heart muscle. I think his last couple of years were very hard, though I'm ashamed to say that I didn't understand how hard. I'd always thought of Daddy as some kind of Super Man. The extent of his illness and frailty was incomprehensible to me until after his death. I could not imagine my life without him being in it.
Shortly after Daddy died, I occasionally felt his presence. Once I sensed him standing behind me as I washed dishes at the kitchen sink. Another time, I distinctly heard his laughter. But then he went away and seemed to remain stubbornly absent, even from my dreams.
And his absence worried me a little bit. I wondered if he was mad at me.
But on this, his birthday morning, rather than making my customary bee line for the kitchen to get my caffeine fix as soon as I woke up, I lay in bed quietly contemplating everything and nothing about this mysterious life, wondering what kind of fragment I am in the long chain of ancestors and future descendants who make up the mundane family and blood line to which I belong.
As I lay in bed, listening to the rhythmic tongue of my old dog as she licked and washed her paws, I had a wonderful thought: Daddy didn't go silent and disappear from my life.
In fact, it's Daddy who encourages me every day: when I go in my studio, for it was the money he left me that enabled me to build it; when I touch the piano, for he was the one who knocked on Mrs. Greer's door and persuaded her to take a four year old child as a student, paid for years of piano lessons and sat in the rocking chair by the hour listening to me play and sing while he smoked his pipe and nursed his bourbon; and finally, every time I open a book, take up pen and paper or just get lost in my own thoughts, for it was he who taught me to love the life of the mind.
I put Daddy on a pedestal when I was a little girl. I don't any more. Now, at age 62, the same age he was when he got his pacemaker, I see Daddy realistically. He wasn't a god, just a very smart and complex man. He was like me and the rest of humanity: walking dust, curiously flawed and perfect, all at the same time.
I no longer idolize Daddy, but I will always love him and be thankful for the gifts he gave me. And I sure am looking forward to talking to him when I pass over to the other side.
As always, I ask you to share Dogwood Daughter with someone else. I'm an indie artist and depend on good folks like you for word of mouth advertising. Thanks.
Be Well and Good Luck,