Tuesday, January 4th started like any other day does for me. I got up at about 4am, hit the head, grabbed a couple of cans of diet Red Bull, and sat down at my desk to began another day of working on “the game”.
The morning proceeded normally – I had breakfast with my wife, showed her some of the progress on the program I had made earlier that morning, gave her a hug and kiss as she left for work, and returned to my desk where my cat had been waiting eagerly to return to “her” lap.
About 9:30am there is a knock at the door. We weren’t expecting anyone or any packages so I got up to see who was there.
I looked through the peephole and saw two LAPD officers.
Being as I was wearing my usual home office attire – a t-shirt and underwear – I cracked the door open and asked them to give me a second to get dressed. They said no problem so I ran to the bedroom to put some pants on.
I returned and stepped out on the porch to talk to them. They asked me what my name was, I told them. By now I was getting a bit nervous and my mind was starting to think what could be going on? Was my wife ok? Had some boneheaded thing I had done years ago in my 20’s come back to bite me? My thoughts were interrupted by them asking me to confirm what my father’s name is. I confirmed that it is what they had stated. Now I was really starting to wonder what was going on.
At this point the officer told me that he was sorry to inform me that my father had died.
I was completely stunned.
They gave me a card with the contact information for the coroner who is handling his case and asked if I was ok. I told them yes, I was ok, just in shock as I had not seen my father in 32 years. I didn’t even know what state he was living in. I asked why were they coming to me? They informed me that I am his only living relative so I am responsible for his body and estate. We talked for another minute or so and I shook their hands and told them thank you and that I very much appreciated them delivering the news in person.
On a side note I’d like to say for as much crap as people like to heap upon the police – especially the LAPD in my neck of the woods – people forget and/or ignore the human things they do such as rescuing a cat or letting someone know that a family member has died. These things are some of the most human things the police do and they are often the most overlooked. Next time you get all enraged over some police officer somewhere doing something stupid, try to remember all the others who aren’t stupid, don’t suck, and are out doing their job properly with discipline and dedication.
I returned to my desk, grabbed my phone, called my mom and wife and left them messages explaining what had happened. After that, for an hour or so, I sat staring at my computer monitors lost in a haze of thought. I’ve lived a pretty eclectic life. I’ve experienced a lot of things that most people will never try, want, or get a chance to do. Because of this, I am a guy who usually has a frame of reference and/or knowledge for almost any situation in life – until now that is. When I find myself unable to form a cogent thought regarding a problem or situation, I find some sort of manual labor to get lost in. I got up from my desk and started washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen.
After working on the kitchen for an hour or so I found myself increasingly worrying about my father’s mortal soul. He was a Catholic at one time and while I am not an overtly religious man – more of a Deist with a little touch of Anglicanism and Catholicism thrown in for flavor – I could not stop worrying about it.
After sitting for a few hours and thinking about things I finally came to the conclusion that there was not a single thing I could do about it other than to say a little prayer. What is done is done.
My father was his own man. There is a reason I had not seen him in 32 years. It’s not that he was a bad man per se, but he did life a very conflicted life and that drove him out of mine. Whatever was going to happen to his mortal soul was going to happen regardless of what I did or said.
I’d like to think that my father, much like I have, mellowed and matured with age. I’d like to think that at some point my father finally left his conflicted life in the past and accepted himself for who he is and what he has done in life. I’d like to think that my father found a place in this world where he had friends, conversation, and good times. So I will think these things – not out of some wish to add a happy ending to his life, but simply because I have no evidence to contradict them at this point.
He was not an ideal father and I could use that as an excuse to just blow all this off and let the authorities deal with it. However I do firmly believe we should always honor our parents in death – even if they were the worst parents in the world – simply because they gave us life. Life is a very precious gift and we should be grateful for that gift.
I have scheduled him for cremation. His remains will be shipped to me. There will be no service. My wife and I will go sailing with him for the first and last time, say a few words, and give his remains to the sea.
I’d like to think he’d be alright with this.