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Monday, February 20, 2017

a free man, unfettered and alive

My plan to act like Frederick Douglass (as a man who got himself free) worked. My father and I exchanged pleasant good-byes this past weekend, with no rancor or resentment.

I spent a pleasant afternoon with him. (I was staying at an airbnb private apartment.) He's clearly at peace. He's had a good and long life, he said. 

Last month when he was staying in the hospital, he told me, a chaplain, an older black woman, had come by, though he'd put down "none" for religion.  She'd stayed just a few minutes. 

She came back and said, "I know you." 
He was the professor who'd led the Upward Bound program she'd attended as a teenager in the summer of 1966. She told him it had meant a lot to her that he'd told her she could do what she wanted. She brought him a knitted prayer shawl. 
I like knowing that.

Before I left, I thanked my father for giving me life, and feeding and clothing me. I reached in my pocket to give him a "special" quarter--something my mother always used to do with me. 
I didn't have one, but I had one of those new Jefferson nickels. That was more fitting, since the Constitution is like my father's Bible. He put it on his bedside table. I asked him if he needed anything from me, and he said no.
He asked me nothing, as usual.

The doctors say he might live many months yet. Dying of liver cancer is not supposed to be too bad.  With hospice he can die at home.
I'm glad and grateful that two people who adore him want to and will lovingly attend his final months. A dear friend will take his two cats, which was maybe his biggest worry about dying.
 
I walked away in the late afternoon with the image of him standing in the sun outside his house, smiling and waving at me. I replace all our previous endings with this.
I don't think I'll go back again.
I felt like Joni Mitchell's free man.
Unfettered.

6 comments:

The Crow said...

A good ending, friend.

Fresca said...

Thanks, Crow. About as good as could be hoped...

deanna said...

Thank you for illustrating this good meeting and parting. I hope you're at peace, too.

Fresca said...

Thanks, Deanna. Pretty much, I am.

ArtSparker said...

I keep coming back here and not knowing what to say. As someone who has trouble relating to members of her birth family, and who finds it much easier to connect with those who are sympatico, I can relate in one way. Plus, dying parent thing, that is, these circumstances have nott created closeness for me particularly.

Frex said...

SPARKER: Yeah, it was hard to know what to say about this event for me too.