If you stand at Dad’s graveside with your back to the utility road winding through the cemetery, you can see directly into the canyon lying at his feet. Down on the floor of the canyon, surrounded by green hills, is a road that leads to heaven. I’m sure of it. Even though it runs along what seems a fair amount of the canyon base, you can only see one little spot. At a turn it briefly rises above the brush and trees and then disappears again.
One day I’d like to see what’s on that path. During the summer everything looks dead and old down there, and you can’t really see the road at all. But it’s there. Once the rains come and wash away the dead vegetation, the canyon blooms into color and character again, and you can see that rise in the mist.
It has been two-years since my father passed from this earth. Two years to the day, and just like during all the other days I have come up here, I find myself staring at the path instead of looking down at the headstone and talking to the ground. He’s out there on that road somewhere–I refuse to believe that he’s rotting inside a box six feet underground. My memory of him does not allow for that sort of ending. Christina has it right: she refuses to come here because to her, this is not Dad–it’s too sad of a place for one so happy and content in life.
But still, I feel his presence here–mostly right after it rains, in the green beauty of the rolling hills, the canyon and the path that leads to heaven. After all, heaven is where living things reside.
So Dad is, and will always be, among living things. He’s in the trees, in the birds, the sun during a beautiful day. Mostly, he’s in all of us–some part of him is a part of us, whether personality, wisdom, compassion or his great undying passion for life. We all represent a small living part of him. For me, that part is getting larger every day. What I once hated, I enjoy because I have a discovered a knack for building things. It’s intriguing, because most of the time I have no idea what I am doing. None. Not a clue. It is completely a case of figuring it out as I go along. Somehow I’m doing the right things.
I’m a little late, and that’s a regret I will always carry with me. I plan to become good at the craft he so dearly wanted me to learn. I will teach myself as a tribute to him. And, of course, learn the hard way. Christina and I still have our house–a little mansion of our own that needs to be made into a home. And though it will never be as it was supposed to be, she and I have begun to make a home this English cabinetmaker’s son and his wife can be proud of–and that’s all that matters.
I realize now that Dad lives on in the ability he and I share for creating things. It has awakened in me a passion, a love, for life and all that it encompasses.
That is the most important lesson of all, from a father to his son.