It was 34 years ago today January 28, 1978, The residents of Cleveland and Buffalo and Erie PA (where I was), remember it as the "blizzard of the century". It was a Saturday Morning and the wind was howling and the mountains of snow were piling up. In Cleveland. it was and still remains the lowest recorded barometer reading in history.
I had just turned 16 a month before. On that morning, I stood in the driveway trying to jump start our car, as somehow my father in the hospital at Cleveland Clinic 100 miles away from Erie, had taken a turn for the worse. We had to somehow get the car started and make it 100 miles in the blizzard to see him. No one including myself, believed in his mortality. It wasn't magical thinking, it was just that my father the strongest, smartest person, whom could provide all forms of safety and security, like no one else in the world ever would or could.
As I stood in the driveway, that phone call came- the one that in an instant changes the course of your life- 'we didn't need to come to Cleveland now'. My Mother in a panic shouted to my sister and brother, "Dad just died."
My first thought was, "Oh no. Now what am I supposed to do?" 34 years later I am still trying to figure out the answer. It is a timeless question for the ages maybe only asked and answered in a way between fathers and sons. I do wish I would have asked him when he was on earth, but I am not sure I would have been ready for the answer then. It might be something that is demonstrated through life, a question we go back to and revisit over the life span.
In that blizzard. I knew then that life would never be the same. I wondered what it would be like for my father to be dead. Would he be all right? How could he leave us? What would the world be like now? What was I supposed to do right then and what was I supposed to do for the rest of my life?
I had a lot of questions and there was now a fundamental problem that has plagued me forever. If the most secure thing in the world -my Father , could die, then there really was nothing secure at all in the world.
I had lost part of myself and part of my identity. When you lose part of your heritage, you roots and your essence, it might figures that one would not know where they were supposed to go or what they were supposed to do from then on in the future.
My life has never been the same, The world has always been a bit more uncertain, and maybe a little cruel, without that safety and security. His loss has colored every aspect of my life. All the success and all the failures, all my roles as a man have been touched by this loss. From father to husband, brother, uncle, friend. personally and professionally. All of the good and all of the hardships, since he died, oh so many hardships, the pain, the sorrow and agony, which I mostly as a man have kept to myself- all these have been colored by his loss, and they have been experienced and endured without him.
On earth I was nobody's son anymore. My mother soon took sick with Alzheimer's. It is a foul, lost feeling not being anyone's son, not belonging to anyone. We create relationships through out life, some are fostered and nurtured, some are lost and decay, but there is no bond like a father and son. There is only one.
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