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  • Harry Jensen

April 28, 2020

Today is the fifth day of Ramadan, and my sixth day of fasting. For breakfast, we ate some eggy bits. Bean Curd and I each ate a piece of toast in addition, and then T put the remaining two slices of toast in a Tupperware bin before finally depositing the bin in the microwave for storage and later consumption.

“I don’t want them to get cold,” she explained.

My Mom called during her drinks time — 6 o’clock — and my morning walk with Maude. It was nice, and we talked at length about some of the entries I have made in this blog. (Totally meta.) I clarified that “Daddy DoNothin” is a term of endearment for a cremated father, and not a shady moniker for a deadbeat dad. In my case, at least….

She also shared aspects of her and my father’s divorce with me, the entanglement of lawyers and twisting emotions, and she told me a story I did not remember being a part of. When I was nine, shortly after the divorce, my father had to have an emergency appendectomy, and they found a tumor. He managed to explain to his boys that it was “good news” that the surgeons discovered and removed(!) a surprise lump in gut, telling us that it was all wrapped up. Before it even started almost! I remembered that sentiment, but had no memory of the conversation itself before my mother’s recounting.

It was really swell to hear some stories that I had never heard before. I especially appreciated the ones in which my father appeared, particularly because they were complicated and messy.

I’m sad to report that I have a bit of HDS, or Holy Daddy Syndrome. But I’m recovering. When a loved one — or even a strongly liked one — dies, it is second nature to revere them, maybe even first nature. When my father first died, I would picture him sailing into the sunset on a surfboard made of candied hoarfrost, me waving up at him with teary eyes and my father waving back and smiling down upon me kindly, fistfuls of money spouting from his benevolent nostrils.

I like this image, particularly because my Dad was stalwart in his aesthetic campaign to impress upon his sons the image of a Puritan father. He wanted to be a good example for his children, someone temperate, noble yet groovy. But, unfortunately for him, he was all too human, and magnificently flawed in his own fine ways. After many months and years, the idyllic picture of my father has withdrawn from my mind’s eye a bit, and I see more of his whole picture and placement in my life. I can see him jabbing his finger down from his cloud as it drags him up into the empyrean heights, screaming down to overencourage his boys to honor his memory by living a monkish life sworn free of cigarettes, booze, and recreational sex.

Parents are precious, as rare as white rhinos and nipples. (Yours at least.) As many of us know, there is a lot of pressure to have a good relationship with the living one — if there is one — when one parent bites the dust. They’ll be extinct before you know it, these miraculous creatures. I am thankful that my Mom is around, willing and even eager to share some of the more real tidbits from my Dad’s epic, the raw pieces, the human edges, the mad mind that (say) stores toast in the microwave.

“It’s almost easier to talk about him now that he’s dead,” my Mom laughed. “Put that in your journal!”


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