Elegy for My Father
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Elegy for My Father
Copyright © October 19, 2014 Douglas W Jerving.
All Rights Reserved.
My Dad was born in November 1937, twenty years before me, his first child.
He died in early 2003, eleven years ago. I did not know him very well until
those last few years of his life.
I took over his business at his behest, and when he passed away, I closed
it at the end of the following year. In the two years that I worked with
him, and the year following his death, I learned more about him and about
life in general, than I ever did in the 40-plus years before that time. He
was many things to me through that odyssey.
In those later years, he was first someone I had never known, except as a
shadow, or a distant set of memories. The childish dream-state remembrances
were important to me, but they were vague, and not dependable. He was a
salesman, a milkman, a breadman; a man who told me to go back to bed when
he kissed my mother goodbye at four in the morning.
Then for a while he was my bitter enemy. He was the man who had left us
before we were too young to understand that there were two sides to every
argument. Before I realized that a man does not consider himself a man if
he cannot support his family no matter how he tries.
Later, after mutual apologies, he became my friend and business associate,
but not much more, as we both were working in process service running
separate businesses. Before he died he became my confidant and trusted
adviser; a man who's understanding of things was a mirror of my own; a
reflection of my self where I could see my own intellectual development
before it ever took place.
We were business associates long before we were friends. The business made
us friends, so that we were learning from each other. I learned more from
him, I think, than he from me. Maybe that was a part of his plan: to pass
on to me what he knew before I realized what he was doing. He knew long
before I did that he was dying.
Before my Dad passed away we became close (very close) friends. His doctors
had given him six months, at best, to live. A few months before he died he
shared that burden with me. He requested I would act as the executor of his
estate. (It really was just enough to pay his final bills: his last month's
rent, his gas bill; stuff like that. He owed no one a dime beyond those few
That is not something one requests of a mere business associate.
But by that time we were at last father and son.
It had taken 40+ years for our relationship to heal; for me to love him as
my father, and he no longer fear the rejection of his son. We had come to
an understanding at last, that whatever happened years before either of us
were old enough or wise enough to understand made no difference now.
I miss you Dad, and I love you. You have no idea how much I learned from
you in those last few months. Those last months and days we had together
as family mean more to me than you would ever know. I hope to see you again
soon in the presence of the LORD, Who washes all tears away.
Doug Jerving is the publisher of the NewEdisonGazette.com. You may contact him at
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