Time is fast approaching when I will have been alive the same number of years as my father when he stopped being alive. My older brother passed that mark this past year. Another trick of math tells me that I have now lived nearly another half of my life since dad passed on. Kicked the bucket. My personal favorite: Joined the choir invisible. A phrase I attribute to John Cleese, but was originally from a poem by George Eliot. Aside from the hairline that endure as a gift and tribute from my old man, I continue to keep alive many of his worst jokes and stories.
And the peanut brittle.
And the clock on the wall.
And the walls that surround me. By managing the insurance money I was given as a parting gift from dear old dad, my wife and I could afford the down-payment on the house in which we now reside.
So, no, there aren't many days that I don't think about him. A quarter of a century ago, there were plenty of other things on my mind. Starting a new life in a new state and striking out on my own. All those strings attaching me to being "Davy" and lashing me to a future that was only what happened in Boulder, Colorado had been cut.
And it all changed in an instant. There was a flash of time during which I began to imagine a life that brought me back to my hometown, to be the caretaker for my horribly injured father. It was long enough to imagine the scenarios in which everything would play out just fine. The relative comfort and safety of going back to my hometown came as a mild relief at that time. I was terrified at the prospect, but it seemed like the next logical chapter in my story. But first my brothers and I were going to have to sort out what was really happening.
My father died in the burn ward. He didn't make it home. Not until we carried his ashes up to the cabin he built and sprinkled him there, as he had often pontificated: "Scatter me here." Suddenly, I was released from that binding commitment of looking after an invalid. I was returned to my regularly scheduled programming. But nothing was regular about it. I had been pushed through a door into adulthood like I had never imagined. It was my older brother who carefully sifted through all the paper and accounts and did the heavy lifting. I returned to the relative safety of the west coast, where things eventually returned to normal. But a new normal. This was the one where a parking space for Donald Caven had just opened up, and one of the best things I ever helped create was someone to take it over.
Now it's his lifetime that dates this whole process. There's a burgeoning adult who has been indoctrinated in many of the same ways I was to the ways of the world. He knows many of the same songs and stories I do. And though it seems like forever ago, I know it is just ever.