Friday, March 5, 2010

I Remember (6)

I remember trying to share a memory of my father at his memorial almost nine years ago.  He had died the day after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, apparently minutes after raising the American flag to half mast at the Friendship House in Augusta, Georgia, where he worked as a volunteer.  He was 81.  Anyway, my aunt Barbara had suggested that we all share a memory of my father.  She started off by showing a photograph of my father, well into his 60s at the time, holding himself up horizontally, entirely on the strength of his arm muscles, clasping a metal pole with both hands.  When, in turn, I tried to speak, I could only speak of the man's basic decency--the one thing he had taught me that I never seemed to grasp--i.e. staying out of debt, being useful with one's hands, never seeking the spotlight, facing life with stoic equilibrium, without an extravagant bone in his body.  I choked up.  It was like my head (not just eyes) had suddenly congealed with viscous tears.  My friends Elizabeth and Barbara (not my aunt) patted me on the back.  I couldn't finish.  I was wearing my father's tie.  These were the first tears I shed for my father's death.

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