Sunday, June 17, 2018

Letter to my father

My mother died on Father's Day, eleven years ago, and my father died a year later, on July Ninth. I last talked to him on Father's Day, 2008.

Dad, I will try to call after I write this letter, but I want write it first.
Today the temperature is supposed to go over 100. It is now 10:37AM and supposedly in the 80s, but there is a breeze coming through our windows. I am organizing my studio, sorting through piles of paper and photographs. I need very little of it but have trouble getting rid of most of it and I wonder why. I have a box of letters from you and Mom and it is easy to understand why I keep them. I think all of this stuff is a kind of memory bank. When I sort it out and look through it I am reminded of places I lived, places I worked, people I knew, things that happened.
I haven’t even opened the boxes I brought up from Florida after the last visit and I’m not sure what is in them, since I packed them last year. I know I packed some old newspapers Mom saved that have headlines about Kennedy’s assassination, Bobby Kennedy’s assassination, ML King’s assassination, Watergate, Moon Landing. She got me started on that practice — I have headlines about Reagan getting shot, the first Gulf War and the 2000 election. I don’t “need” all these newspapers but I like to look at them once in a while (every ten years or so).
Anyway, my plan is to exhibit some of my paintings in my studio and bring people over to look at it. I am restoring and “renovating” paintings and also doing new ones. It is very slow going.

Betty told me when you moved to the Lake Placid facility. I wish I’d known about that change earlier and could have timed my last trip to help with  the move, but it was rather sudden.

June 18 4:45AM. I get up at 4AM Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday and make a breakfast of coffee, toast, and raisin bran. No sha-sha. I usually read, and often write, until some time around 5:00. Between 5 - 5:30 I leave (after kissing Lori goodbye) and make a 15 minute walk to the subway station. Once I saw a raccoon a block from the building, digging in some garbage. It is usually a pleasant walk and I like to see the stars and the moon in the morning. The train is on an elevated track in Brooklyn and crosses the Williamsburg Bridge. If you look, you can catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. Once across the river, the train goes underground.

April 6, 2009. I am ashamed and saddened when I see that the letter stopped 3 weeks before you died and I wasn’t able to finish it. I felt that it was becoming too trivial — a description of a typical work day. I don’t know what it was I thought I should say but I couldn’t say. I was afraid to talk to you about my lack of faith in the core doctrines of the Gospel as you and Mom understood it, although the real core of it, I thought we did share. I still think that the “real core” of Jesus’ teaching is that we love God (and know we are loved by God) and that we love one another. I think that the love you and Mom had for God and for each other, and for me and Betty, and that you sought to share with others, was the message you were sent forth to give to everyone. You found God’s love in scripture and in prayer. You put scripture to music so we could remember it, and you prayed every day. Mom wanted me to know, above anything else, that I could take anything to God in prayer, and talk and commune with God, and be in God’s presence whenever I needed to. This faith was at the center of your world view and the way you approached people, wanting to share your faith in God’s love, and to share the love with your generosity and your concern.
When I saw you and Mom next to each other, holding hands, I wanted to be the kind of husband you were, and now I’m afraid I haven’t been and I’m afraid I don’t know how to give Lori everything she needs  and to provide for her.
Lori is a very beautiful and spiritual woman, and her love and generosity is very much like yours and Mom’s. She also believes in the gospel of Jesus and she is seeking spiritual healing and power to deliver her from the pain and fear and unhappiness she was born into. I love her very much and hope I can become the strong and loving man she deserves.

Dad, I love you and Mom so much and miss you and wish I talked to you a last time and told you these things.