Ted, I’m in Ho Chi Minh City teaching English, via Nashville, Tennessee. I saw your headline and it rang true, although not for nearly the same reasons. Turns out that your article comes to me in the same week that I most recently wrote off my dad (it’s happened before).
He’s a 74-year-old man living between Montana and Mexico, depending on whim and weather. He’s a narcissistic recovering alcoholic and proud homosexual, and, well, those two defining characteristics are pretty much it. He has had trouble carrying those weights through the years and still maintaining any sort of identity as a father.
Anyway, it’s a long sordid story, ‘nuff said. The point is that I looked to your article for some insight as to how to do a father/son relationship from afar. Your story is a touching and honest, beautiful one. Mine is at an impasse, with a Facebook message from me that ended thusly: “I don’t wish you ill. I don’t wish you well. I wish I had a father.”
The finality of death in your story puts an interesting spin on mine. I don’t know how it will work out. I do know that I think about the word “father” all the time, and my relationship with it. I thank you with all my muster for putting your story down. Thank you, thank you, and thank you, sir.