Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Stories

I left him a message saying I was convinced that he should start a blog. He was out of town at a bridge tournament, and told me that I was crazy.

But when he called me back, his first question was, "What would I even start with?"

I knew I had him.

I had to be delicate, though, because the truth was sad. And I didn't want him to know what I was thinking.

* * * *

I wanted him to write a blog for me. For my family and our friends, too, and I suppose the whole world. But he had to write it down mostly for us. Because he had so, so many funny great wonderful amazing stories. And I didn't know them all.

I could never remember them all.

Heck, I wasn't allowed to hear them all. (I'll tell you when you're older, he'd say. But maybe sometimes a daughter is never old enough.)

He was sick, though, and I didn't want to tell him that I was scared he would grow too sick to tell the stories before I had collected them all. I had to have them, know them, be able to tell them again.

Especially the ones about my mom. There was still too much I didn't know. An embarrassing amount, really. I was ashamed I didn't know more. Even the stories that were about the two of them -- and by God, were there a lot of them -- I wanted to know those and have those pieces, too.

His cancer had disappeared, but when it came back it did so with a vengeance. Before he was too weak to play bridge or trivia, before he was in the hospital, before my poor family had to do the hospice vigils again, I wanted it all written down.

* * * *

He was a good writer and a fantastic story-teller. I had no doubt he'd have a blast doing it.

"I don't know what you'd start with, but it doesn't matter," I told him. "You can go in any order you want. Maybe start with that list thing you'd sent me."

Not long after he was diagnosed with colon cancer, he decided to make a big long list of places he'd been, people he'd met, great restaurants and celebrities and happenstances in his life that he'd been lucky to experience.

Not proud, mind you. Lucky. He never used the word proud except when referencing his girls.

(And even then, he'd give most of the credit to my mom.)

So goddamned lucky, he'd say.

"Well who would even READ it?" He wanted to know. He was still pretending that he wasn't sold on the idea, but if he was already thinking about his readers, I knew he was gonna do it.

"I would link to you for starters," I offered.

"Oh, I don't know about that."

So we talked more and I said I would just set one up for him and walk him through logging on. He agreed that he'd write a couple sample entries, just to get the hang of it. And then we could discuss whether we'd make it public or not.

It was going to be cool. I told him I was excited, and that I thought I was creating a monster. He still had reluctance in his voice, but it was for show. He loved the idea.

We said I love you and hung up the phone.

It was the last conversation I had with my father.


* * * *

Last year on the morning of May 2, I was at home. I didn't commute to work because our company was going to a baseball game that afternoon in the city.

In the five years I'd lived in San Francisco, despite my father's history as a world-class athlete and rabid baseball fan, I had never been to a Giants game. It would have been my first.

I was sleeping in, and awoke from a very strange dream about my family where I was having a conversation with my aunt because the phone was ringing. I answered it, and it was the same aunt I was dreaming about.

She was calling to tell me that my father had died. I didn't understand at first. I thought maybe something had happened and he was in the hospital, but I didn't think... We had spoken just two days before. And he had been traveling. And it didn't make sense. There was no warning.

He had just collapsed, finally, his body done with the fight.

* * * *

When we got back from the funeral services, one of the first things Ish did was take me to a Giants game.

I could not believe how beautiful it was. The sun and the Bay, and the fans and the families. The game. The history. So many people cheering, living. So many stories everywhere. And my own, too. How I came to be.

So goddamned lucky.

It was glorious.

16 comments:

  1. Kristy,
    I can't believe it's been a year since your post telling us that your dad had died. Today's post was beautiful. I can sooo relate to what you said about your dad being so full of stories, my dad was a story teller, too. I had begged him to write down or tape record stories of his family, (including is one armed aunt who was a prostitute and the time when his grandma took him to see Amy Temple Mc Pherson and she scared him so bad that he ran out of the convention center and it took them 5 hours to find him!), but alas...he never did it.

    We both need to write down all the stories that we can remember and maybe ask our family members to edit or add to them before we all forget the details.

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  2. thank you for a beautiful post. i live in fear each and every day that one day very soon i will also be composing a similar letter. everytime i hang the phone up i wonder if that is the last time we'll talk. he sounds so good some days, but i know better.

    and i know i haven't heard all the stories. thank you for reminding me, i have to start writing them down.

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  3. Oh Kristy. This should have been labled NSFW. Here I am, crying at my desk.

    My love to you on this day and always. May your urban and virtual families provide you the support your father would have wanted. :)

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  4. My God. I cannot believe it's been a year already.

    Much love and peace to you and your family. Today. Always.

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  5. I'm sorry, Kristy.

    I lost my Mom 4 years ago this past weekend. It's so hard to believe it's been that long!

    I still have my Dad, and he is still in good health. I cherish each and every day I have with him.

    {{hugs}} from Central Illinois.

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  6. It's been 30 years since my dad shuffled off this mortal coil. (I really don't romanticize that much, I just LOVE that expression, and use it every chance I get).

    I still wonder what it would have been like if I'd had my father to turn to for guidance. Maybe it was easier because he was always not there, the hole is one of "what if" rather than a sense of deep loss.

    29 years from now, you'll still mark this day in some way, shape or form. 29 years from 29 years from now, you'll do it some more. That you can do so with such eloquence, today, while the wound is still raw, is simply amazing.

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  7. omigod. has it really been a year?? i can't believe that. i'll bet you can't either.

    sending love to you and your family...

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  8. K..

    I could feel the sad undertones as I read it but it still came as a surprise, as it did for you.

    I am really sorry for your loss and hope that you get a quiet moment to celebrate the life of your father not just today, but everyday.

    Take care of yourself and remember how lucky you have been to have a father like that.

    Take care
    Me.

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  9. I totally understand what you're feeling. My mother-in-law was a teenager in Holland during WWII and lived through Nazi occupation. I know she has tons of stories and I even gave her a tape recorder but she doesn't use it. She saw Hitler and Patton almost standing in the same spot. So I hate that all that history that our parents have might be lost forever.
    My own dad has been gone 3 1/2 years and I know there are things we never knew.

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  10. That was just a beautiful homage, Kristy.

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  11. Love you, Love your dad, he made me smile and laugh, and I love this homage to him.....

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  12. baseball will always mean a connection with your dad for me. the last time i saw him we got the baseball package for him, and we watched some of the mets game together, like we always did from time to time in years past. and we poked fun at the announcers and i made him laugh with my boston sports radio call in impression. and he smiled his big smile, even though he was sick. i love him and miss him.

    - cuznate

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  13. God I miss him like CRAZY...
    -Healy (Kristy's sister)

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  14. My god I love your writing. Amazing. I have been reading your blog for a long time and so often your words make me laugh and cry. Today, I cried. Your dad sounds great and it seems like the whole world lost someone special when he died.

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  15. You break my heart - in the most beautiful way.

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