My Father that is in Heaven

March 23, 2010
I had thought about my father dying before, and I was surprised at the lack of emotion I felt; throughout the years, because I had thought about him just as much as he had thought about me- not much at all. And now it seemed surreal that I sat at the edge of his hospital deathbed, the white room, the white sheets, the white pillow-and computerized heart monitor, beeping loudly, the lines going up and down and up and down in a almost robotic fashion.

“Dad.” I said. “I’m here.”
His eyes opened lazily and he glanced up at me. He said, weakly, “Marvin. Hello.”
There was an akward pause- my father had never really been one for conversation, and the same was true even on his deathbed. I took a seat in the metallic chair beside him, watching his shallow respiration and his aged face contort with the effort of staying awake.

“How are you, dad? How’s the hospital food?”

“Fine.” he said quietly.
“Do me a favor, Marv, and turn on the T.V.”

Slightly annoyed at the fact that he would rather watch a T.V as he lay dying then talk with his only surviving offspring, I rose and pressed the button on the small T.V anyway. Playing on the screen was the History Channel, and it was playing a show about coal mining in the 50’s, and it struck me with images of the past that I wished would shrivel up and die. It was as if my dad fed off these thoughts, because he then said,

“Merv, I was a coal miner.”


My father had been a coal miner, in fact. He had been the manager of the Chester Mines, a small mining operation in North Carolina. It brought the money in, and we were the first in the town of Chester to have T.V. Every cent my dad earned was a result of hard labor and a stress full working environment, and these elements combined can turn a man viscous, and that’s what I suppose happened with my father.


It was a late night in January and the night was cold and harsh and dark. My father had rolled into the driveway at 9:30, and I had been in the living room, reading a book while my mother was in the bedroom, knitting like she always did while she waited for my father to get home. We both heard him screech into the driveway, and I knew at that instant he was not in a mood to be tempted. I wisely decided to retreat to the tree house in the backyard, but the walls of our house were thin, so I could hear everything, along with the rest of the neighborhood. My father slammed the door, and I heard a crash as he screamed;


“WHAT IS THIS BULLS***? I CAN’T GET ANY FOOD AROUND HERE, GIVE ME A BREAK-” My dad, in the present time, broke me from my flashback.


“It’s the damned coal dust. It’s in my lungs.” I nodded.

“You don’t talk much kid.”

“Neither do you dad.”

Suddenly my memory sent me to Christmas day, 1953, when I had gotten a new football. My brother has at his girlfriend’s house, and he would have never played football with me in any normal situation. My younger sister was much to young to be playing with a football, and she was in her room playing with the dollhouse she had just got for Christmas. It left only my dad, who was sitting at the island counter, sipping coffee and reading the newspaper. Sometimes, when he was in a good mood, he would do stuff like that with me, and it was Christmas. Everyone was in a good mood during Christmas.

“Hey dad.” He ignored me.

“Dad.” Nothing.

“Daaaad.”

“Shut UP, Mervin.”

Back in the present day, my father let out a croak and he began to convulse, his body shaking and trembling as if he was a marrionette, as if some cosmic god was taking perverse amusement at his father’s pain. A tide was washing over his nervous system, wetting things that were meant to stay dry.


I screamed, and a nurse came rushing into the world, followed momentarily by a team of doctors, running toward hospital bed that contained the convulsing body of my father. I was hastily ushered out as the doctors huddled around the bed with grim determination. I then lost all concept of time and it meant nothing and was nothing. We were guided by time, it is the structure for our daily lives, at school, when the bell rings at 10:32, we move like rats in a test moving from point A to B. But in a situation where the dam breaks and there’s nothing holding the brutal reality of life back, we find ourselves tragically under prepared. At some point, a doctor came into the hallway and told me that my father was dead. At some point, I was on a nearly empty subway, spare two drugged out teenagers looking at each other with bloodshot eyes.

“Look out for the damn coal dust,” I muttered.

At some point, I met my mother at the doorway of my childhood house, and she had somehow known that my father was already dead. She stared at me with puffy red eyes and collapsed into me, and I could smell her- she smelt like a fresh, clean shirt, a smell that I had always associated with my childhood, and I saw her tears and it all had such a sickening affect that all I could do was rub the back of her head as she sobbed into my chest. At some point I fell asleep in the bedroom that was my own when I was a teenager, and at some point I awoke with a letter on my chest.
I opened it, carefully tearing the seal from the envelope.
“TO MERV,” it read in my fathers pained, dying handwriting.
It was two simple words:

“I’m sorry.”


AT THE FUNERAL.

“Oh father, that art in heaven…:”

“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done…”

I stood before the crowd of mourners, my mother in the front with the standard widows dress and lacy facemask, and I read off a piece of paper battered by the wind and the icy rain that was falling as the coffin was being lowered into the 6 foot hole.
“We often do not know a man,” I read, “Until we hear his final words, or his final thoughts. I did not know my father until after he had died, and for that, I will be sorry until the day I die. But let my father rest in peace.”
And 3 weeks later, after the funeral and the cards that said ‘Were so sorry,” I came back to the grave with my own letter that I put down on the soil under which my father lay.
“Dear father;
I’m sorry too.”





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