My Father's Voice
Although my father, whose namesake I am, died twenty-one years ago, I just spent a hilarious and profound afternoon with him. For a few hours on a beautiful late spring afternoon, I sat out on the porch and listened to his inimitable voice beguile, instruct, and entertain me. He had me laughing out loud as I read through a large folder of letters he had sent me over the years. We were together again. It was his voice I heard, his voice speaking to me. It could be no other. In the beginning and end are the words. If we are lucky, we hear them.
It's sad to think that the era of letter writing may have ended and future generations left bereft of this deepest of consolations. Emails in a cloud won't do; they lack the soulfulness of the human hand. They delete the person.
My parents had nine children. I am the only son. My father and I were very close. I talk to him daily, but it is only with the approach of Father's Day that I reread his letters in an effort to honor him, to remember him. It is usually then that I hear him respond. One look at his handwriting -- so unusual -- and he is present.[tag]
And then the voice.
"The other day Mama saw a death notice of an Edward J. Curtin but happily he came from Brooklyn so it wasn't either of us. I told you things would get better."
"I am up at this ungodly hour (3:35 AM) because I just had sort of a nightmare in which I was an official hangman with the unpleasant task of hanging Mrs. Grossman, one of our neighbors whom I rather like -- very unpleasant stuff these dreams are made of. I don't think I'll delve into this one with my guru oranalyst."
Back from a doctor's visit, he reports: "The doctor said I have only two problems -- from the waist down and from the waist up. But from the neck up I think I'm okay. Cogito ergo sum."