These things begin silently. A knock at the door. Quiet words. I am surprised, stunned, really. They really come to your door, and they really do take off their hats, and there really are 2 of them. They use the words “we are sorry to tell you”.
Somehow, even though there were plans and contingencies, even as we were booking the medical stuff to get him some help, figure out what had to be done next, without us knowing, he slipped away.
Quietly, I hope and pray.
These things happen quietly, which seems right, my Father in Law would hate the fuss and the bother, and the long distances calls would horrify him.
Without us knowing, he died, and joined his mother, his grandson, his friends. Quietly he moved from one place to the next, from an impermanent world to forever. I am standing and moving, from one thing to the next, and it does not seem that a thing which starts so quietly as death, a thing that is merely a twinkling could cause such deep disquiet.
The phone calls are made, we have started on the lists, we have talked and arranged, and with nothing more to be done tonight my house is quiet, which seems so close to where I was just a few hours ago – right before the police knocked on our door with a message from the RCMP in Prince George, and I stood on my own front porch, and I watched pain tear across my husband’s face, and my heart broke into a million pieces.
And nothing about this is quiet, even if my house is silent. I can sit here, typing this in the dark, and nothing about me can be still. I can hear his voice in my mind, see his letters in my memory. I feel as if I must tell you a million things, from the way he called me sweetheart, how he signed his letters by drawing a face with scruffy hair and glasses in the “O” of his name. I must tell you about his stories, he knew Al Capone from Chicago when he was a boy and he watched the Cubs every year even though they never won a pennant, and he liked basketball and hated hockey and smoked a million cigarettes a day and never opened the windows of his house. I told you that I called him Uncle Otto before Mr. Spit and I married and I started calling him Dad, didn’t I? And every year my mother would buy him shirts for Christmas, and I am sure they are still in his closet because he wouldn’t wear them if he had to iron them and if you were wrapping his Christmas present you couldn’t put bows and ribbons on it because he didn’t like those, but he liked my mother’s butter tarts- and oh, I could go on. My memories, my thoughts and my tears will not be silent.
and still, silently, he is gone.
I love you Dad.