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 things.)

I complied.

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 dje@newedisongazette.com.


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