So my father died 45 years ago today. This morning. A Saturday. That's how old I am.
I remember waking up and stepping into the kitchen to see my sister Claire sitting on my aunt (Sister Ann Teresa, SSMN)'s lap, crying. My mother was waiting for me. Father McLaughlin was there, too. My brother, Jim, only 9. I believe my mother said, "Daddy's gone." And I know Father McLaughlin said, "God took him." And I remember going right to my father's rocking chair in the kitchen, sitting in it, and saying, "Well, there's just another saint to pray to."
A little dramatic, perhaps portending my future. But there it is. I had last seen my father six days earlier, on a Sunday morning. I had gone to band rehearsal in the school hall, knowing he was heading back to Boston, to the Pratt Clinic, where he had been the preceding week for...the dreaded word...tests. I knew he was having an operation the next day, on Monday. I didn't know what the operation was for, because we were Irish and the adults didn't talk about cancer to the kids. But I knew it was kind of important, this operation. And I knew, when I got home from band and he was already off to Boston with my Uncle Bill, that I needed to see him. So I looked outside the front door and saw that my uncle's black Chevy Impala had just taken a left turn down Otis Street, which meant he'd be coming back out to Moore via Bourne. So I ran as fast as my then-chubby body would take me (pretty fast, to tell you the truth--they didn't call me "Flash" in the school yard for nothing), and caught up with the Impala at the corner of Moore and Bourne.
I have written about this, and performed the written piece on stage. So I won't repeat myself here. I've held off getting it published, but I think I'll do that someday.
And I did say goodbye that morning, to him, in person, to his face. And for that, I am eternally grateful. I didn't know, or even imagine, that the goodbye would be my last goodbye. But it was.
And it was a good one.