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My Dad wonders, “What’s the alternative?”

For Father’s Day, I’m putting together a digital scrapbook of sorts. I came across some notes I scribbled after talking with Dad in 2009. We had talked a little about the fact that he doesn’t live in the past despite some agonizingly painful memories, as when my sister died of leukemia at the age of four:

The past is over. And I can’t live in the future. So I live in the present. I have these distinct periods of my life. They’re almost separate lives. I wish your sister had lived. In my last memory of her she was in an oxygen tent, holding out her arms and saying, “Daddy help me.” I couldn’t do a thing.

It struck me that, as emotional as Dad is, he has been – and is – a very practical man.  He does what has to be done.  When memories are too painful, he doesn’t dwell on them.

A few days later, we talked a little more.

“I’m getting to be an old crock,” he said.  I commented, “You do so much better than most people your age – you’re hardly an old crock.”  Then he said, “I hope it doesn’t shock you, but I look forward to being with your mother again.”

Now, Dad and I had talked about his concept of faith and God many times in the past, and he had expressed regret that he couldn’t quite believe in God, much as he might want to.  Further, he found it unfair that my Mom, a woman of so much faith in God, would express fear of death when she was in the late stages of terminal lung cancer.  So I said, “I take it you do believe in an after-life.”  He replied:  “What’s the alternative?” I’ll take that as a yes.

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