104 years ago. Wow. And there you still are, looking at me from the wall, that same, enigmatic sad-smile; happiness and regrets, one hand clasped on the other as if to hold together the unconnectable pieces you accumulated on your path through life.
You were like a mountain to me, growing up. You were approachable, but never quite knowable, and when you told us the story after Mom died about how you realized just a few days in what a colossal mistake you had made in marrying her, you seemed like a mountain again. Carrying that burden all your life? I couldn’t have done that, Dad. You’ll always be a mountain that way.
You were resolute, you were steadfast. You were the guy who could always be counted on. I guess you created that character early in life, and you stuck to it to the very end. Few people can do that; I certainly can’t.
I got the impression when I was a teenager that you had serious doubts about the indoctrination you got at Moody Bible Institute. You were smart, you were perceptive, and you even commented numerous times about the many discrepancies between Christianity and the evidence otherwise. But you slogged on, making a career of teaching people how to become preachers and missionaries. It was like you were driven by inertia, that once you had become a “clergyman” you were on a path you could never leave. Like with Mom.
I’m now the same age you were when you were living in that retirement park … the place where it seemed to me you gave up on your future and settled for keeping up appearances with Mom. I’ll always wonder how much of you was keeping up appearances. What secrets lay behind those kindly eyes? I have secrets … I guess we all do … and I’ll take mine to my grave too.
You’re less of a hero now, more just a guy, and I like you that way. I’ll never be who you were, but I’m working on being who I am, and I hope that’s good enough because that’s all I’ve got.
Have a good one, Dad, and if I’m still above ground I’ll see you next year!