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In the Obituaries

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It was my freshman year; I was sitting in my first period science class, wondering why so many people were absent. Even the teacher’s assistant was gone. Suddenly, as if they had all arrived together on a late school bus, all of the missing people walked through the door. I heard lots of mumbling about bad traffic. I managed to eavesdrop on a conversation being held between my teacher and the tardy teacher assistant; something about a fatal car accident, involving someone driving head-on into a semi-truck. The incident was completely forgotten by the end of the day.

A couple days later as I was relaxing in my room, my mom called me into in the living room in a stern, yet troubled, voice. “Oh crap” I thought, “What did I do now?” Head down, heels dragging, I went into the living room.

“What’s up?” I said
“Sit down,” she said, with a strange look on her face.

Hesitantly, I sat down on the couch. I decided that I would look more innocent if I was lying on the couch. I kicked my feet up. My mom looked at me. I could tell by the look on her face that she was trying to carefully pick out the right words. She cleared her throat.

“My friend called me today”
“Oh...” I said, confused.
“He said that he saw an obituary for Timothy Magnett in the newspaper yesterday.”

That was the first time I had heard my dad’s name in quite a few years. Even though I was lying down, I swear to God that I almost tripped and fell. She said that they weren’t one-hundred percent sure that it was my father, and that they were still trying to find out, but I could tell by her tone, that there wasn’t much doubt. I could tell my mom was sad. She wasn’t as upset about the death of Tim Magnett as she was with the death of her son’s father. I was speechless. The thing that upset me the most was the fact that I was not compelled to cry. All I could do was lay there with a blank look on my face. Still in a slight shock, I got up to go to my room. My mom got up and hugged me, and I just stood there for a while.

My feelings about the situation are very hard to describe. It’s kind of like being a little kid and getting a brand-new toy that you think is great. Then, one day, you lose the toy in your room. At first, you try really hard to find it, then after searching and searching, you give up. The toy is lost for years, becoming something you only think about in daydreams. Then one day your mom comes in and says that the toy is broken and she had to throw it away. Your first reaction is sadness. Sadness is the only thing you outwardly express. But deep down, you occasionally have this sick inner thought of, “Oh well, I didn’t play with that anymore anyways.”

Later that night, my mom came into my room and confirmed that it was, in fact, my father. He was driving drunk, and drove onto the freeway going the wrong way, and head-on into a semi-truck. It wasn’t until days later that I had connected the death of my father with the large amount of students and teachers late to school on that one morning.

I think about that day very often. It’s not like I felt my father was a disregarded toy. My father wasn’t the greatest person in the world. Not much of what he did was legal. But he was still my dad. I still remember him sending me letters from jail. I used to love getting them. Then one day I decided that I hated him and tore all the letters up. My father was not involved in much of my life. Part of me wants to resent him for that, but the other part wants to understand where he was coming from. The very few times I spent with him were always great. He loved me. He was always incredibly nice to me, and I can remember every time that I was with my dad. I still remember the last time I spoke to him. It had been several years since I had last talked to or seen him. I was at my house playing video games with my friend. The phone rang. I picked it up.

“Hello?”
“Hey buddy!’ said a voice I could not recognize, but obviously knew who I was.
“Hi…” I said, in an uneasy voice.
“Know who this is?”
“Uh” I said, trying to sound as though I was genuinely thinking. “no.”
“It’s your dad.”
“Oh.”

It was a very awkward conversation. He told me he was doing some work in the area, and that he wanted to spend time with me. I told him this sounded great. I wasn’t telling the truth when I said this, however. I was going through a phase where I felt like I should be mad at my dad, for whatever reason. My mom asked me later that night what I thought. I told her that I wasn’t ready to start seeing him again, and that I needed time to think. She understood and assured me that she would talk to him for me.

I was in the room when the phone call took place. I was pretending to be asleep, but really I was listening intently on the conversation. My mom told him that I wasn’t ready to see him. I could tell he tried to say something in protest, but my mom insisted, in her sternest voice, “Don’t call him again Tim.” I wanted to change my mind. I wanted to sit up and grab the phone and tell him I was sorry. I decided against it and assured myself that I would give myself some time to think before I would talk to him. I did really want to talk and spend time with him. I never got that chance.

I still think about his death to this very day. Wondering, always wondering. Was it an accident? Was alcohol really the reason he got on that off-ramp? Could it have been pre-meditated? Did he think we stopped caring about him? What were his final thoughts? These are all questions that I will never know the answer to, but I will still continue to think about. I will always be thinking about it. He will always be in the back of my mind; this way, we will be able to spend more time together.





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