What Family Leaves Us

Our week here is nearly over. We are flying back to England tonight. I thought a small blog tribute to Dad was called for.

He still lives here in the Pennsylvania house he’d bought with my now late mother in 2011. They’d moved from Long Island, New York – seeking peace and quiet. They found it:

[Photo by me, 2018.]

It has not been easy for him since my mother died in October 2015. It’s not where I grew up: I have no attachment to this house – he could move out tomorrow and I wouldn’t care. But he won’t leave it because my mother loved it.

Having a “nosey” around yesterday, I found among my long deceased grandfather’s books that my mother had inherited and still sit in a lounge bookcase…

[Photo by me, 2018.]

…a 1936 published Spencer Press volume of a certain novel you may know I kinda like: The Last of the Mohicans. I took it down…

[Photo by me, 2018.]

…and had a browse:

[Photo by me, 2018.]

I got most of my own obsession with books from my family.

My grandfather had stacks of books, some of which my parents inherited. My mother loved big romance books, like John Jakes. My dad loves history: his volume of Thucydides was the first “grown up” book I ever tried to read when I was age ten or eleven.

Visiting here between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, we decided to do a combination Christmas/ Thanksgiving dinner. My wife cooked up a storm for two nights. We even did kind of a “Christmas” last night:

[Photo by me, 2018.]

This year, Dad has put up his first full Christmas tree since 2014 – my mother’s last Christmas. He did it entirely on his own before we arrived. I am *thrilled* to see it.

[Photo by me, 2018.]

The stereotype of men who live alone (“bears with furniture”) does not apply to him. He has always been a “neat freak” – and it was applied to me too: as a kid growing up, I had to keep my room ***perfect.*** It all made Mom’s life easier, I guess.

Alone he still keeps his house immaculate: ***everything*** is in its proper place. (Even his garage: well, you wouldn’t believe it.) If you move something even an inch or two, we always joke, he notices.

For an author, not only what we see around us in the present, but also of course what we recall of our past, including how we grew up, often finds its way into what we write:

[Excerpt from Frontiers on Kindle for iPhone/iPad. Click to expand.]

My grandmother is long gone. My mother is now too. My dad remains – and I know I shall miss him terribly whenever he too is gone.

I went with Dad yesterday for his semi-annual check-up for his heart, and met his heart doctor. At one point I overheard Dad half-jokingly complain how annoyed he is that the doctor says he is in great health; that his heart – he’d had heart failure in 2014 – is now working fine. “It will happen to us all,” the soft-spoken, India-born man smiled and declared to him in response. “We go when our Maker says we go.”

Indeed such is life for all of us. Have a good weekend, wherever you are in the world. 🙂

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