Why do I care if he smokes? He's lived a life of hard work and sacrifices and doesn't have much to show for it. So, maybe the sooner he checks out the better for him? Is that how he looks at it? I don't know, I can only see my own, arguably selfish, view of the situation. He's been absent from my life so many times when I was growing up, away sometimes for over a year while in the Air Force. I needed him so much. And when he was home, he was always so committed to whatever job he held at the time. It seems he's given more to employers who couldn't have cared less about him than he ever did to his family. I guess I feel like I've been abandoned enough. And yes, that is a way selfish sounding statement considering the reality of my life is that there was always someone to provide for me and to love me; even though it wasn't always him. But that's another post about dysfunction for some other day.
It appears I've always expected more from my father than he was willing (or able?) to provide. Though, I don't feel I've had outrageous demands, but reasonable requests for a son to make of a father. They've gone frequently unfulfilled nonetheless. Now, when it seems like he should be more introspective than this, he still seems hell-bent on leaving me again. In the movies, the old man always realizes his shortcomings as a father and, though he can't undo the damage of the past, he makes amends as best as he can. He offers reparations to the son, who, perhaps hesitatingly at first, accepts and embraces a father who wants to do the right thing. It's like, we're on the stage, it's the final scene, and he's forgotten his lines. Or no, he's refusing to speak his lines. Or no, he doesn't have the capacity or emotional depth to grasp the lines. And so, we stand, as awkward as ever, as I reach out to the blackness of a near empty stage.
As they always do, my thoughts turn to my own sons at times like this. That's a post I don't have the nerve to write yet. Maybe I need to be older. Maybe not. It's never too late to make amends is it? Or too early?