My dad died today.
Early this morning, in the depth of sleep , dad’s body flipped a switch. My mom found him still warm to touch. The switch-flipping happened perhaps an hour before she found him.
Seeing him, touching him, he gave the clear impression of a man at peace.
I only know that I needed to write something tonight while he is still warm in my visual memory lying there. Words help. I find value in sharing with you reading these few words here.
His given name was Garfield… apparently before a lasagna-eating cat had stolen the name. I like his name. I like the strangeness of Garfield. He was the only one I knew. I am glad that I am not named Garfield.
Dad is forever connected with the smell of two-cycle chainsaw gas, bar oil and pine sap. I have his last Johnsered chainsaw. It is a bit too powerful for firewood- heavy- but I like the scream it makes and the lift it gives when I squeeze the throttle. It has a built-in handle warmer for cold days. He was proud of that feature.
Dad was a bucker. I like the Anglo-Saxon of logging vocabulary. Bucker. (To quote Monty Python, ‘it’s a woody word’.)
Buckers saw off limbs from fallen trees. They cut the logs to length before loading. Dad had these tape measures he kept in his tool box.
His job is now replaced by processors. Processor is from Latin. I disapprove of Latin, especially large Latin machines and how they replace Saxon humans. We could do with less Latin and more Saxon.
Dad was a rancher before his logging decades. He lived all of his working life outdoors- with his hands and arms and body.
I wonder if living and working beneath no-roof-but-sky is one reason for why he was so honest. And quiet. And gently humorous. The land does this to a person. The land demands honesty. The land doesn’t stand for half truths. The land humbles you.
Dad acquired a seventh-grade education at the one room school house near Pinantan Lake. It was the height of his formal education. He learned the rest from television. I’m not kidding. He was one of the most TV-literate scholars I have ever met.
I don’t think you could bore him. I asked him during one of the hundreds of hours of dialysis what it was he thought about during his treatment. He responded that it was always memories that occupied his time. Dad was a gifted storyteller.
I know that at first his failed kidneys filled him with fear. I know that years later he was ready to leave. I know that he wondered how much longer he would stay with treatments. I know that the nurses cried today at the dialysis clinic when mom and I visited to thank them. I know he was loved and valued. I know that he loved me.