Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Call

Seventeen years ago today I was at work early in the morning, stocking shelves in the grocery store. It was maybe 6am. We were (as stockers do) talking shit and telling bad jokes.
The manager paged me that I had a phone call. I said, and I quote, "Who the fuck is calling me at work this time of the morning?" I'll never forget saying those words.
It was my oldest sister. I don't remember how she addressed me. She usually says "Hey, Hon" though. What I do remember was that she said "Daddy's gone." Just like that. Daddy's gone.
I don't know if I said it out loud, but I know I thought it... I thought "Gone where?"
You see, to me my father was immortal. In the back of my head I knew he was in his 70's, but he was bigger than I was. I was a bad ass in those days, but he was stronger than I was. I had no doubt he was tougher than I was. He shot better than I did. He drove better than I did. He told a better story than I did. Plus, my mother loved him.
I mumbled something about being home as soon as I could and hung up. I told my boss what had happened, walked to the end of the isle the guys were on and waved, then I drove to my apartment.
I packed as quickly as I could, called my friend Margi to feed my fish and hit the highway home.
Home was an hour away from where I lived. I remember turning off the radio... Something I never did. I live by my music. I didn't cry. Not then. Not that weekend. Maybe not that year. I cried later. Much later, when I realized he was gone and I'd never be as good as he was.
I vaguely remember talking to the funeral director, Mr. Garrett, with my siblings. Mr Garrett looked sort of like he had been around the dead so long some of it had rubbed off on him. He sat behind a huge mahogany desk wearing a light blue seersucker suit and gave us (the bereaved) some pricing. I remember almost none of that.
The only thing I remember insisting upon was that they bury him with shoes on. I felt and still feel very strongly about that. (When I die, I hope someone remembers that. I don't want to be stuck walking through eternity barefoot.) Ma picked the suit... I insisted on shoes.
We put my dad in the ground the next day. It was fast I know, but we had to. My mother's birthday is the 23rd. My grandmother died on August 21st in 1976. That funeral was on Ma's birthday. My brothers and sisters were determined not to do the same with her husband.
I refused to view the body. The man in the box wasn't my father. My father was somewhere carrying a hoe or a hammer or a shotgun. My father was somewhere in the sunshine doing something to raise a sweat. In my mind he still is.



At August 21, 2008 11:30 PM, Blogger DammitWomann said...

Big Hug to you K-Nine!

At August 22, 2008 3:26 PM, Blogger Elisson said...

That's a beautiful post, K-Nine.

It hurts to dig up memories like that in order to write them down...but it hurts so good.

Those are the phone calls we dread. May they be few and far between in your life.

At August 22, 2008 11:55 PM, Anonymous JRB said...

I remember that morning too. It can't have been that long ago. I remember feeling like someone had just hit me in the stomach with a load of bricks. There was nothing to say, nothing at all.
There's not much more to say now, except that I still love you all like I was born into the family, not "adopted" as a grown up.
You're in my prayers as always.

At August 25, 2008 9:26 AM, Blogger Bag Blog said...

I thought my father was immortal too. I cry for him more now than when he died. Excellent post.


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