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  • Writer's pictureJane Leder

The Last Time I Saw My Father

Funny how a memory pops up when we least expect it.  Our minds go to unexpected places at unpredictable times.  Sometimes there’s an obvious link; often, memories seem to appear out of left field like an errant baseball thrown past home plate and into the stands.

The last time I saw my father was at the lunch following my mother’s funeral.  My dad didn’t want a funeral and, along with my two surviving siblings, conspired to make sure that my mother didn’t get the service and burial she would have wanted and deserved.

The grand compromise?  There would be no funeral home service but a small one at the gravesite.  Some compromise.  But that was the best I could do.

And there we were standing on the front porch of a distant relative’s home (Everyone else had moved away) —my husband, son, good friend from high school and my dad.

The friend waxed eloquent about how my mother and father had been like substitute parents and how much he appreciated their concern and support.

“Well, at least someone appreciates me.”

He looked straight at me.  “That’s more than I can say about some others.”

Was he serious?  What the hell had I done?  Maybe the knock on his head (actually, he fell and suffered a subdural hematoma two days before my mother died)  had rattled his memory.  I’d been the dutiful older daughter who jumped through hoops to make him love me.

Okay, so he was pissed that I’d “forced” a service for my mother.  Well, screw him!  He couldn’t forgive me for what turned out to be a lovely celebration of my mother’s life?

My friend said a quick good-bye and headed for his car.  In what looked like a choreographed move, my son, husband and I stood and walked back inside the house. We were in no mood to weather my father’s abuse.

And that was it: I never hugged my father, said how much I missed my mother or how I knew the next months would be tough but that he could count on me to be there for him whenever he needed me.

He did call me once after that and offered me my mother’s car.  A peace offering?  I graciously said “no” because I had a car and didn’t need another.

He died two weeks later.


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