Friday, November 13, 2009


Friday, November 13, 1964 – 45 years ago today – my brother and I were awakened about 6:30 a.m. by our mother saying: “Daddy’s dead”. I was an immature 13 year old. My father’s cancer and impending death had never been discussed with Dan and me as our parents tried to make our life “normal”. Strangely, perhaps, I had Never consciously thought of my father being terminally ill, but at the same time it also made perfect sense that he was dead.

I didn’t cry then – “being a man” – and in some ways became “the man of the house” in the coming months and years. In the early 1980’s when I discovered feminism I learned to cry. I then grieved the loss openly as well as discovered the anger that I felt towards him.

Now – a rainy Seattle day – it was rainy on my father’s funeral day also I think – I sit and feel a variety of emotions. I’m 58 years old. My father died at 46 and would be 91, if still alive.

I’ve been lucky so far in my life being healthy and not having major tragedies affecting me greatly. With an 87 year old step-father, an 82 year old mother and an 86 year old mother-in-law we will face losses together in the years to come.

I’m thankful that my brother’s chronic mental illness has been much milder in recent years so that he’s been able to be relatively happy. I feel lucky and happy at the successes and happiness of my 22 year old son teaching AP biology and freshman physics in an excellent Chicago public high school.

I’m sad for areas of my own immaturity and mistakes. I also feel happy that my life has become easier and more satisfying while being more challenging. My partner and her two sons push me to be a better person, which helps me, despite my resistance.

I wish that my father had had the opportunity to live a much longer life. I’m sad that his desperation to live pushed him to “fight death” and not accept the inevitable. I’m sad that in the world he knew death and illness were not discussed, so that his friends and allies witnessed his withering body, but were never were able to share with him and help him.

I’m sad – that we weren’t close – and didn’t have a deep bond, though thankful that I can now cry in this moment and simply be.

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