63. If Only This Was Possible

“Dad!  Is that you?”

“Of course, you don’t recognize your own father?”

“Well, …  you look terrific, I mean, … when I last saw you 10 years ago …”

“Ya, Alzheimer’s does that to you.  You look pretty chipper for an old fossil.  I see your hair turned white and you’re putting on a few pounds though.”

“Who are you calling old [grin], you’re coming up on your 100th birthday next March.  Did you come all this way to tell me I’m getting fat?”

“No Johnny, I came to talk about your book.”

“My book!  You know about my book?  They have Kindles where you are?  By the way, where are you now?”

“Let’s get past that, shall we.  I just thought you might like to talk about it, that’s all.”

“I can’t believe you read my book.  How … when … I have so many questions”

“Johnny, you’ve told many people that when you sat down to write, the stories came to you, and you just typed them.”

“Oh my, … you?”

“Uh huh.  Look, I don’t have much time …”

“Oh sorry, so what did you think of it?”

“A bit severe don’t you think?  You took a number of people to task for their part in your life.  Did you really think that was necessary?  The book started off nice and light and funny, then it turned dark.”

“Well, it’s a memoir Dad, you know, it’s what I remember.  Interestingly, the more I wrote, the more I remembered.  But you’re right, my first ten years were light and funny and wonderful.  I still have friends from those years.  We were grade school kids in the ‘50s.  Life was a lot different then, simple, honest, and genuine.  Not like now.  Then you divorced Mom and my life did turn dark.  Barbara and Janis were already gone so they weren’t affected as much.  It was unimaginable.”

“Yes, I know that now.  But you have to understand that I didn’t know then what would happen.  Izzy had some problems, and I think you described them pretty well.  I did the best I could with what I knew at the time.”

“She never recovered you know.  She died in ’06, 46 years after the divorce, a lonely, bitter woman.”

“Yes, I know.”

“Those five years I spent with her changed everything.  All the promise of a great future was gone.  You can’t just lose grades 6-10, live in six different places, and have no friends and not be affected by it.  Did I blame you for it?  No, I don’t think so.  I know now that life happens and you take what you get.  I think I would have been much better off had you waited 8 more years, when I was off to college that’s all.  But sometimes you can’t.”

“I also thought you treated Elinor a little severely in the book.”

“Dad, I know that from the moment you married Elinor you treated and loved her girls as though they were your own.  You always considered that you had five children instead of your original three.  But did you ever suspect that Elinor did not consider that your children were a part of ‘her’ family?  As you became increasingly sick with Alzheimer’s, she began to take over the family affairs.  By then, Barbara was gone from brain cancer.  It was then that Janis and I first started to notice the change in Elinor.”

“No, I never did.  She and I talked about it many times and we both believed that the five children were ‘ours.’  She never indicated to me that she thought there were two separate families.”

“I remember in the ‘90s you used to play these little games.  You were approaching your 80s and you used to ask us all ‘when I die what do you want.’  Do you remember that?

“Yes, I was looking for some honesty from all of you and I was trying to get a rough idea of how to please as many of you as possible.”

“And whenever you played that game, do you remember what my answer was?  The same answer that I gave every time you played that game.”

“Yes, you always said that all you wanted was the house.  Everyone else could have the money and the stocks, you just wanted the house.”

“Then why Dad, why oh why, did you then turn around and put the house in Elinor’s name?  I wanted to live there.  I wanted to continue the family name there.  I wanted everything to be the same there so the children and grand-children and great grand-children could come to visit and celebrate the memories of the people who had lived there.”

“Well, at the time our tax accountant told us it was the right thing to do.  I had no idea that things would turn out the way they did.  I don’t know if you can believe this, but I do regret that.”

“Yes, of course I do.  But now it’s all gone.  A strange family lives there in the summer and the house is vacant in the winter.  A lifetime of memories, pictures, possessions, and keepsakes were thrown away.  Thank you for telling me that Dad.  I had always suspected how you felt.”

“Listen, I have to go now.  It’s been nice talking at ya.  I know we’ll see each other again.  Probably sooner than you think if you don’t stop smoking.”

“You just had to get that one in didn’t you?  [Grin]  Always my Dad, … always my Dad.”

“Goodbye Johnny.  I’m glad you’ve let most of it go.  I didn’t agree with everything in the book, but I think you’ve accomplished your original goal for your children.  As you were writing, you made me wish I had been able to do the same for you.”

“Goodbye Dad.  I’ve missed our little chats.  And I’ve missed you terribly these last ten years.

About J T Weaver

The author of "Uphill Both Ways," a thought provoking series of stories about life, family, and growing up.
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36 Responses to 63. If Only This Was Possible

  1. Thank you for sharing, JT. I read this one first, and then returned to the beginning stories. This imaginative piece is probably one of my favorites, because I can feel the love you have for your father. I have also written a letter to my mother, ten years after her passing. This was cathartic. 🙂

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    • J T Weaver says:

      You are very welcome. I’m glad you read the whole book and I’ve enjoyed your comments throughout. Your comments, as is often the case, have been en;ightening and insightful to me.

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  2. I enjoyed this very much – made me want to go back and ask some questions –

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  3. Paul Grignon says:

    Dear J T~

    Delicate and provocative, wrenching and deftly executed. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your chat with Dad, and it makes me realize that I, too, have valid reasons for keeping my own memoir ‘as is’, a director’s cut, if you will.

    I believe if one sits down and writes such private thoughts and memories, in an unedited fashion, that in itself speaks volumes, a written Truth couched not in hesitancy and untouched by the red pen.

    Thank you for stopping by, and following, my blog. I am honored.

    Take care, and warm wishes for a pleasing holiday ahead.
    Paul

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    • J T Weaver says:

      Thank you Paul, I’m very pleased you liked it. It makes a little more sense if you’ve read the other stories. I hope you will enjoy everything that we have to offer here, or even the memoir which goes on sale on Friday.
      Take care.

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  4. Glynis Jolly says:

    Wow! Double Wow! I don’t know if I would be that nice to my own father now. I’m not sure it’s even possible. You’re a lot more forgiving than I am. Bless you, JT.

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    • J T Weaver says:

      Thank you Glynis. That conversation might seem a little weird if you haven’t read the book. I did find that writing the memoir was much more of a healing exercise than I had anticipated.

      I’m glad you stopped by and I hope you will find other stories you enjoy. Perhaps even try out the book on Friday!

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  5. I love your idea and format for this wonderful, wry conversation. Thank you for following me, and bringing me over to your site.

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  6. Benmo says:

    I wish I could print it out and tuck it in the pages of your book. Kindle kind of makes that impossible, except for printing, scanning and saving it as a document… but it’s not the same as tucking a piece of paper between the pages.

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    • J T Weaver says:

      Thanks Monica, I appreciate it. This one and a couple of others may become a part of an update at some point. As I understand it, everyone that already owns it gets the updates automatically. I’ve been kicking around another story or two that would also fit as well. We’ll see.

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  7. I loved this little piece of soul exposure. I think I may try to have a (private) conversation or two like this as well. Ever the teacher J.T. Thanks again.

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  8. Cate Macabe says:

    Touching and powerful. And a good reminder to take the time to consider the consequences of our choices — I’m sure your dad thought he was doing the right thing at the time. Thank you for sharing.

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  9. Grace says:

    Jt,
    This is a moving, beautiful, bitter sweet post. Why did our parents make some of the choices that they did? Step parents, as well. We have to imagine them near to “talk” as usually, there will never be an answer. How sad, that your father trusted too much and didn’t listen to you enough re: the family house. Thank you for sharing this beautiful piece. I need to write to my father; hope he made it to heaven, not so certain he’s earned his way in yet- lol!

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  10. billlabrie says:

    I differ with the title: It is possible. I think we do it all the time. Maybe we shouldn’t. 😉

    Good read!

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  11. jorgekafkazar says:

    Strangely engrossing. Sorry you had to endure the unendurable. I was a kid in the 40’s and can empathize with much of your story, so well told.

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  12. ken miller says:

    A most open and honest conversation that we older citizens can identify with readily.

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  13. joannesisco says:

    That was a very powerful story. Thanks.

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  14. Md. Alsanda says:

    Thank you for stopping by and the following.

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  15. merrysusanna says:

    Loved this.

    Like

  16. Frances D says:

    I need to have a few such conversations with family members who have moved on to the next plane of existence. Beautifully done.

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  17. Lynn says:

    This is beautiful & so filled with emotion JT. Isn’t it funny how, no matter how old we get, we still share the desire to talk to our parents & try to understand why they made some of the choices they did? Thank you for sharing this:)

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    • J T Weaver says:

      Thank you very much Lynn. Yes, I had been wondering lately what he would have thought of the book and some of the interpretations in it. Some family members that knew him have all agreed that this conversation (if it could happen) would be pretty accurate. Thanks for stopping by, I’m glad you liked it.

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  18. Cindy Wayland says:

    What a great “conversation!” Found my heart breaking for him and for you!

    Like

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