Would have been

Today my father would have been 87 years old.

Too many “would have been”s in my life right now.

Kim. Elena. My dad.

A year ago Maggie and I went out to Oberlin and spent time with dad in his hospital room.

He looked up and focused on the top-left corner of the room during much of our visit.

I’m not sure that he knew we were there with him.

We said goodbye to him, wished him a happy birthday, and went to dinner with my sister, brother, and mother.

I’m glad we were there. He lived another three months.

For years, I would stop and have birthday dinner with him on my way to a conference in Sandusky.

This is his first birthday he’s not here to celebrate with.

So today I went to a baptism.

The party afterwards was in one of those places that Kim had frequented.

Every Friday afternoon she and her college friends drank and had a good time in the basement of what is now Pizzaz near John Carroll.

Every Friday afternoon me and my teaching friends would sit upstairs in that same restaurant drinking and talking about the week.

Today I opened the familiar door and headed downstairs.

Once a week, Kim and I were twenty feet away from each other ten years before we’d meet.

I sat at a table with Kim’s parents. Her aunt Mary Kay came over and talked about Elena.

I love that.

Sitting where Kim used to sit, three years after I’ll never see her again, fourteen years after I’ll never see Elena again and they’re both there.

I smile at my father.

He would have been eighty-seven today.

Published in: on January 12, 2020 at 9:01 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. As always, beautifully written Daniel. You’ve inspired me.

    My mum will soon be 88 years old except she died aged 57 from breast cancer. She was young when she had me… a mere 18 years old. I wasn’t the best daughter…often being critical of her for no reason other than I was an angst-ridden, selfish teenager. When she was diagnosed we became inseparable. A few months prior to her death I was with her every afternoon doing this that and the other. Several weeks before… I would drive the short distance to the house and get into bed with her. I’d cuddle her and tell her over and over again how much I loved her and how brave she was and then we’d both drift off for a nap together. Her only concern was not her imminent death but that she was leaving Dad and us behind. She said Dad wouldn’t know how to cook and do the day-to-day. He did. It’s her birthday on February 23rd. I’m going to take her to my favorite restaurant and tell her how I’m doing and how proud I am to be her daughter. I may have to do this in my head or better still write a letter to her while I’m there, otherwise the other diners may think I’ve lost the plot and send me off somewhere.


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