Some years Fathers’ Day passes and I almost don’t notice – except for the card I get from my daughter.
The concept of fatherhood always a vague thing to me in regards to my own father, and only made real when I became a father myself.
These were things I thought during the drive to
yesterday to see my daughter, and the belief that at some point I will end up
living in Scranton as well.
But I also thought about the strange twists life creates at a time when I thought I had a handle on anything.
Until recently, I had lived my life as an only child, growing up like a tag-a-long on a family of uncles after my father left for parts unknown just after my birth.
Since the late 1980s, my uncles started to pass away from all the associated health issues many working class of the Great Depression era suffered: heart attacks, strokes, and such.
The closest in age to me died in 2010, far away in
Carolina. But it wasn’t until my Aunt’s husband died
in early 2012 that the truth hit me: I was the last of a dying breed.
With the exception of scattered cousins and a few survivors of my mother’s cousins, I had only my daughter, her mother, and my wife as immediate family.
This was a time when I was facing mortality myself, having gone through several years of serious eye surgery, ending up near blind in one eye by the end of 2011, resulting in retina reattachment, and for several months had to wear a patch – which seemed to add to this sense of decay.
I felt like the last Mohican or worse, some pirate waging a losing war against growing old, and had too few family to comfort me in my old age.
I had tracked down my father eventually, learning that he had perished in 1990 of cancer, and had remarried at least once. But only over the last few years, did I discover other cousins on his side of the family, and learn, eventually, that I had half brothers and sisters elsewhere – and even got a chance to speak with them.
Since my ex-wife lost all of her family long before I did, my daughter had very little in the way of extended family and so her life was devoid of even what I had.
Driving west to see her, I realized that in some ways our lives had been renewed, new family to carry on some odd sense of tradition we really never established for ourselves, something to cling to as we take a longer trip later.
I still don’t know what fatherhood is, or how I fit into that concept, but I do know that my daughter and I are no longer alone, and that threads of our existence still stretch out over this universe we live in, weaving hope for some future neither of us will ever see.