My dad was a funny guy. He knew how to tell a story like his life depended on it, my mom used to tell me. She loved how he made her laugh. If he were still alive today, heâ€™d make a great blogger, I just know it.
I never met my dad, but I really wanted to. The funny thing is that I think that he wanted to meet me, too. Iâ€™ve been reading some letters that he wrote to my godmother. His letters remind me of a Pynchon novel. In each one, he mentions me. He had an elaborate, secret plan to raise enough money for pay for my parochial school tuition. In fact, he did send me to Catholic school until he died when I was eight.
Let me explain. My dad was an alcoholic. He wore himself down with his drinking. In one letter, he guessed that he had eight more years to live. In reality, life shorted him three years. He didnâ€™t have much of a career, aside from his job selling jewelry at a pawn shop. I gather that he sold random things to make money, but he was smooth about it. He loved to talk to people. He understood them. I donâ€™t think that my dad would have wanted to deal drugs, but I do think that he would have been pretty damn good at it. He knew, better than most, how people become enslaved to their thoughts, to their pasts, to their hurts. He couldnâ€™t have cared less about material wealth, except when it came to my education â€“ and, I assume, his alcohol.
My dad cared about my soul. He wanted me to learn more than the basics, he wanted me to have religion. He thought that Jesus could offer me what he could not: love. He thought that his last few years were best spent peddling odd items here and there, raising what he could so I would be able to learn about Jesus and the saints. He died alone.
Look, my dad had a tough life and he fought more than his fair share of battles. He had his reasons to believe that he was no good for me. Maybe he was right, maybe he was wrong. What I do know is that a hug and a trip to the zoo would have worked wonders on my soul. Maybe he could have thrown in a joke or two. Itâ€™s kind of ironic.
Oh, Iâ€™m not sure if this is important, but my dad decorated his letters with doodles of four-leaf clovers. He said that he wanted to go to Ireland, his homeland, and never come back. Iâ€™ve never been to Ireland, have you? I think I might plan a trip.