Tuesday, November 02, 2010
What would have been
His old self
Laval, QC, July 2009
My father would have been 76 today. In the little-over-a-year since we lost him, I've wrestled with how I should mark the various milestones that have come and gone in his absence. Birthdays, anniversaries, whatever they are, the calendar has a nasty habit of serving up bitterness just when you thought you could handle the memories.
Well, I'm learning that there is no "should", no pat schedule that governs how we are expected to mark these events, no rules that determine whether or not it's acceptable to post a photo or even mark the day at all. So in the absence of a defined framework, I've simply decided to do what feels right to me. And sharing this specific photo feels right.
Why this one? I could have chosen any picture from the few months leading up to last September. But there's something in this one that all the others lack. It's likely the final picture of him where he looks...like himself. Not sick, not tired, not resigned to whatever comes next. No, here, at this moment, he was dressed nattily, his usual sharp-looking self, holding court with a crowd of people gathered at a party, because no one worked a crowd as well as he did.
What I remember from that night was his voice was strong, his eyes were sparkling, his spirit was intact. He bantered with me as I shoved the camera in his face, as I had done so often throughout our shared life. He was my dad as I had always known him, and for once I didn't have to play with the camera to shield what years of sickness had done to him.
It's too late for birthdays, of course, but I felt I needed to remember the day, his day, in some way. Thank you for your indulgence.