December 20, 2009

The Smile

1996 St. Petersburg

He couldn't talk when I saw him. He smiled though. His face lit up as big as day.
Every so often he would reach over and grab my arm and speak to me in a rapid voice. It was as if he was trying to tell me something of the utmost importance. But he was incapable of speech and all I heard was: "Thr mi dush arn efas dechs."
"What?" I kept asking. But all I got was the same thing and I would wipe his eyes because he was crying.
My mom said that he didn't understand and that he was incoherent.
Not that incoherent, I thought. The man recognized me. He knows who I am.
Again with the Kleenex. This time to his nose. He blew and I had to get another one.
It's all real vague still. I look back and kick myself for not staying longer by his side.
I should have spent my nights in the hospital. I should have held his hands during the day.
But I went with my mother to the wharf or a ballgame; whatever the agenda was that day.
You see ... we had not seen each other in 12 years.
I had walked out on my parents when I was 11 years old. Almost 12 years later I returned. For 6 months I stayed with them and lived their lives. And then I walked out on them again. And almost 12 years later here I was again, holding my father’s hand. He wouldn't let go. Every time I got up to leave the room he would try to upright himself and ramble faster than speech is meant to go. "Dnt Goa."
He understands.
"I'm coming right back," I'd tell him. In the hall I'd cover my face and sob. This went on every day that I was there.
Every time I'd enter the room I would say it, "Hello, Dad." My smile somewhat broken. Up close you could probably see right through it. Hairline cracks ready to shatter. Me thinking: Keep smiling dad or I'm going to break.
I do remember his smile. The day I shaved his face for him he kept running his hands across it. Beaming. Happy.
There was laughter there. I smiled just as hard and still tears rolled down my cheek. We must have looked like two nerdy twins.
The night I left his room after saying goodbye was the hardest. He cried and bounced and spoke that rapid language.
"Is he going to be all right?" I asked my mom. 

I think she said, "Yes."
But the real answer was no.
I've never told anyone this. There was never a reason. My father died from brain cancer and other complications.
After spending a whole life apart from each other, we reunited for one week to say goodbye. The one thing I will never forget over that week before I had to return home, was how he would smile.

Today I miss you, Dad.


Laoch of Chicago said...


Nice post.

kristine said...

you were there and he knew and you made him smile.

*mary* said...

You just had to make me cry, didn't you?! It is good that you were there for him. I'm sure it was hugely important for him.

Indigo said...

(Hugs) He knew you were there.

Laura Hegfield said...

this is a heart opening story of deep connection. so beautifully written. so clear. you each exchanged love with out needing words in the moment. just smiles, gestures, presence.

thank you for sharing this memory with us. so much for not knowing what to write.


Renee said...

Beaux what a life you must have lived.

I am sorry that your Dad has gone. This is a very heartwarming post.

Renee xoxo

....-~*~- Crystal Iris Photography-~*~.... said...

Thank you for this post...

Shadow said...

how sad, yet beautiful...

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

the greatest gift to give is you, and you gave it.

It's amazing to me now how much healing can happen in a few brief moments, lifetimes can be healed in one moment of pure Love! At least that's something I've felt in the moments that it has happened.

nollyposh said...



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