I never really knew my dad; I was an infant when he left for the Korean War, and a couple of years after he came home, he and my mom got a divorce. My childhood memories of him are on the non-existent side of vague. I never bonded with my father, and after he was gone, I never missed him.
In my 20s I became re-acquainted with him, and we spent some time together off and on for a while. But things changed for both of us geographically, and by the time he was in his mid-80s, I hadn’t seen him in over 20 years. He had retired to Las Vegas, Nevada, and I had settled into a southern lifestyle in Nashville, Tennessee, where I explored opportunities in music journalism and songwriting.
We spoke on the phone occasionally, and he eventually found himself alone in Las Vegas after his wife died. He then dealt with skin cancer and a mild heart attack, and I realized that if I, as his only child, didn’t move to Las Vegas, I would eventually receive a phone call telling me I had to drop everything and go there to help deal with his medical issues, or worse. So I decided I should obey the fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12) and honor my father, leaving a life I thoroughly enjoyed in Music City to move to the desert.
That was three years ago. I bought my own home and settled in, and began to create a life for myself in a new city. At first, I dropped by to visit him every week or so to see how he was doing. He seemed glad to have me nearby, but we didn’t have a lot to talk about beyond the weather, politics, how I liked his coffee, or how his siblings, whom I didn’t know, were doing.
Then the Pandemic Hit
Like most people, beginning in March 2020, I started staying at home to minimize the chances of my contracting COVID-19. My father—older, more vulnerable, and far more paranoid than I —did the same. But we live less than half a mile apart, and I found myself increasingly walking to his house to visit him. I did this partly out of concern, and partly out of boredom. There wasn’t anywhere else to go or much else to do with so many virus-related closings.
As we sat and drank coffee, he told me about things I had little or no knowledge of from my childhood. Stories about my mother, about his time at war, his working for my grandfather in a locomotive factory, our Labrador retriever in our tiny apartment. There were no surprises or disturbing revelations, but things that filled in a lot of blanks for me, and helped make my history seem a little more complete. I also think he enjoyed thinking and talking about things he hadn’t revisited for 60-plus years.
Spending Time with My Father
So, for the nearly two years of the pandemic, though I frankly hadn’t really intended to, I’ve gotten to know my dad. Or at least I got to know a lot about him. I wish I could say we’ve bonded on a father-son level, but that’s not really the case. We look absolutely nothing alike and we have almost zero in common. I’m born-again and he seems on the fence about that, and just kind of ignores my overtures to discuss spiritual things. He’s a nice enough guy though, and he’s been nothing but kind to me.
We have dinner at a casino sometimes (he always buys), and we’ve started watching televised sports together, something neither of us are big fans of. But this sometimes helps with the still-occasional awkward silences during my visits. And at his age, in a world that’s moving faster than any of us can keep up with, he has problems with today’s life in general that I help him with, like with his computer and his smartphone, and dealing with the frequent frustrations of making doctors’ appointments. It’s good that I’m here.
If you’re one of those silver lining, half-full vs. half-empty people, you might say that something good actually came out of COVID-19, at least for somebody. And should my father die tomorrow, I’ll have the knowledge that by doing what I believe God wanted me to do, I helped make his final days, and maybe mine, a little fuller and more complete.
If you liked this, you may also like A Child of Divorce
Rick Moore writes from Nevada.© 2002 - 2022, AnswersForMe.org. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.