Dear dad, six years have galloped past leaving me in the dusts of time. Six years have seen to it that your memory is but a smoky tendril fading into the everblue and however much I try, I am unable to reconstruct the angled features of your handsome face those rare days you managed to smile. It’s all gone, dulled with un-remembering leaving me wishing for impossible things.
Then perhaps…perhaps…perhaps it doesn’t matter anymore. What am I left to offer you but heartfelt wishes of a hurting child thrust into maturity without the teachings of time. Perhaps the gods can sympathise and grant this man-child only ten wishes and a boon for a stolen childhood that will never be found. Ever again.
Dear dad, how is the afterlife treating you? Do you get to go out the house in the evenings to smoke your Sportsman cigarettes under the moonlight? Is that even allowed? How do the beers those ends taste? Are they served warm or cold? Do you still fight for the respect you think you deserve even though you already have it safely tucked into your meticulously pressed man-clothes? Are you still the same man I grew up to know like the back of my hand: A nasty tyrant buoyed by the bottle and a thoughtful man in the cold sober mornings craving matooke and liver, hot enough to burn your tongue. Do you miss thrashing the five year old me or were you only punishing yourself? I never held it against you, because in you, I always saw the man I could be. Or not. And is the afterlife all it’s made up to be or is this another lie grownups tell the kids?
Dad, ten wishes and a boon, that is what I’ve asked. If those wishes were cashed in for time, I would go back and fix everything that set the course of your fifty years of strife to its unfortunate end. I owe you that much If not more. You’re my dad after all, even after all has been said and done.
I would go back in time and befriend the five year old you. I would teach you the lessons you tried to teach me in your own twisted way. I would teach you to be brave and honourable and hard as the will of a woman scorned. I would teach you that men are men and have to do what it takes to protect their own. Men don’t fight women, and that should be the first law, never to be broken at whatever cost. Men are born to be free and have to be left to their own devices. Men don’t get lost and should never have to ask for directions. They will always find a way back to those they love and those who love them. I would teach you that pain is temporary, pain is a mosquito bite to be swatted away. Blood is like sweat that needs to be wiped away. What matters is that we are free to be the people we were meant to be deep inside. Excesses of cigarettes and booze are not a man’s way. A man needs a clear mind to plot for the next day’s forage. I would teach you things, dad, things you never taught me.
Perhaps I would give you a fighting chance. Perhaps you wouldn’t have to die at 50, looking 35 but still wasting away. The last day I saw you, thoughtful and soft-spoken, that last day would last until I am man enough to be proud to be called your son. I wouldn’t have to see people who used to know you as a child but never thought to help set you on the right path. I wouldn’t have to see people who despised you come to put you into the ground. That should have been my job. A son’s last act of respect for his parent is to bury him with his own hands. That failing, I have chosen to bury you deep into the soil of my mind and build you a grave of flowery words and nostalgic half-smiles, those you used to give that keep lingering in my memory of you.
I am your son, dad. This much is true.
Six years left to rot like road-kill, I am finally burying you.