So my younger brother Todd and I drove up to Pennsylvania together for my aunts funeral. As usual, it was a good drive, just he and I, catching up…like brothers should.
I hadn’t been to the city, Chester, Pennsylvania, that my parents grew up in, in many years and, unfortunately, it hadn’t really changed too much. It brought back a lot of memories, good memories, but it also brought out a different, adult perspective.
My stomach was in knots…completely.
I hadn’t really seen or spoken to my father since mid 2003 and I expected that he’d be in attendance. We parked the car and walked around to the entrance, which was at the back of the building and there was family everywhere.
Then I saw my father.
I was paralyzed.
I didn’t know what to do, fortunately there were many other family members around that I hadn’t seen in years so I greeted them.
I knew, eventually, I’d have to approach and get in the space of my father… Well, I guess I didn’t “have to”, but it is what was going to eventually happen. Trust me, I get no pleasure out of not having a caring father, so I’ll eventually “get in his space” and see what happens.
So I went over to him. Paused, took a deep breath. I felt like I needed to take a shot of liquor, ya know, something you do to help you get through a situation or a task that you’re dreading. …I’ve never had a shot of liquor, but this might’ve been a good time to start.
There he was and I said:
Me: Hi, how are you?
Him: (Quite warmly) Hey! Who are you?
Me: Bryan. (My government name)
(Really, really uncomfortable pause…at least for me. I doubt it was uncomfortable for him.
Me: (Sigh) I’m your son.
Him: Bryan? That’s you?
He made small talk, complimented me on my suit. I just kind of mentally faded away. I mean, I wasn’t surprised that he didn’t recognize me, but the actual reality of experiencing my own father not recognizing me was…well, it’s tough to take.
Anyway, so I floated around in a bit of a fog until we all went entered the church for my Aunt Barbara’s service.
It was great to see so many extended family members. It was good to see all of my siblings too. We hadn’t all been together since my mother’s funeral November 2002.
After the church ceremony we all traveled to the cemetery. My father rode in the limousine with his 4 remaining sisters. After the lowering of Aunt Barbara’s casket, my father rode back to the church with myself and my younger brother Todd. I sat silently in the back seat of the car and just listened to my father, sitting the front passenger seat, talk. He was telling a story about something my little sister, Avis, had done. It was a funny story…because my little sister is hilarious. I wasn’t ignoring him, but I couldn’t bring myself to say anything to him, so I just took it all in…and recorded him on my phone. I figured that one day, in the future I might want to know what his voice sounded like and if I ever have children, I’d probably want them to know as well.
When we arrived back at the church for dinner he asked me how I was doing, I answered, and he exited the vehicle.
After dinner I took a lot of photos and made sure I got one of him and all of his children together. It was a nice time. I didn’t have any direct, one on one, interaction with him, but that was okay because I was still quite nervous about it.