Sunday, April 22, 2007

24 years ago

I have been in a strange mood today. Well, the last couple of days too. I don't know why, it might be because I am overtired from working so many hours and or the short turn around from having to be back to work earlier on Saturday after working till 2 am on Friday Night. I just get into these moods where I don't want to talk to anyone and I just want to be quiet. Sometimes people think I am in a bad mood, but I'm not, I just don't feel like talking.

I have been thinking about my father. Before I write anything more about that, it might also be because I went and got Buddy today. At least I got his ashes. Now I am not that sentimental of a person, I mean I have some things I do get sentimental about don't get me wrong. But I don't cry easily, I don't think I ever have, even when things got their worst. But I went and got the Razor today and brought him home. I think I have been avoiding it, seeing as how it took me almost a month to get him. I think I just put it off since it represents the finality of Buddy dying. I got his "English Gentlemans" picture that I love and I put it and his ashes on the fireplace in the den. I worry about how my mom will react when she sees it, but she wanted him to come home too. Buddy belongs here. He was a special kind of cat. I have never seen nor had a cat that was anything like him. Sure when he was a kitten he did kitten things, but as he got older he didn't. He would play sometimes with the other cats, but he pretty much did what he wanted to do.

I am glad he's home. I didn't cry or anything, but I couldn't help but notice this tremendous hole inside of me looking at his picture. I really miss him. Sometimes I wonder if having a girlfriend might take the sting away from such moments, but oh well.

My dad died 24 years ago at 7:21 pm on April 21st walking across Nevada Ave in South Colorado Springs. He was hit by a car and it has been disputed whether the guy ran a red light, but the end result is the same, he died. It was a pretty violent and quick death. I read the autopsy report a few weeks ago and it was almost too much to read with the trauma his body suffered. (Below, My father is on the right, receiving an award in Okinawa in 1967 click on the pic to see it full screen)

I don't know why I have been thinking about him. I did love him. We weren't the tightest, at least for most of my life, but around 22 we actually started becoming closer. That was after I had decided that I couldn't hate him anymore for the stuff he did to us kids when we were young. My dad was an alcoholic and could be a very mean one at that. I won't go into stories, but I can say, we did suffer physically, me especially, when he drank. I used to act as a deflector to keep him away from the other kids and my mom. I always resented my father for the way he treated me, and after my son Justin was born, I had an Epiphany. I didn't hate my dad, I don't think anyway, but I didn't really like him and I resented him. I guess resentment could be a form of hate. But I finally confronted him one day and I spent about 2 or 3 hours just speaking my mind and letting him know that I wasn't going to hate him, I would forgive him and not carry around that poison and that he was still my father. We didn't speak again for almost 6 months I think, even though my brother would say to me, "Dad asked how you are doing today."

I did love my father. He was really a very intelligent man. He taught me a lot of things about life and I learned to love a lot of things from him. My love of history and science, current events, the military, writing, learning and who knows what else came from my dad. I just turned out to be a musician and not the baseball player my dad thought I would be. My younger brother Bill did that. He used to slam me about my wanting to play music and write music. Eventually, he came to understand that I was pretty good at it and that I had a reputation as being a 'gun slinger.' But he also came to understand that it wasn't just some kick I was on. When it started to occur to him that I had become a good guitar player and was pretty well known in the 'Springs, he understood the dedication and work that I had devoted to playing and writing.

We got to be good friends, a father and son before he died. I remember one day getting up to leave his apartment as he was playing solitaire with his glasses on, they had rubber bands to hold them on his head, and I said I had to go pick up Justin and bid him goodbye. As I was walking out of the door, he said, "Bobby" and I turned around and said "yeah Dad" and he looked up and said, "I love you son, I am proud of you." I was stunned for a moment and then let it pass as I left. I mean he had said that before, but this time, there was a sincerity in his voice that I hadn't heard. I almost thought he might start crying, but like me, my father didn't cry that often. Only later as I made my way through the days that followed, did the impact of him saying that to me become apparent. I knew that he absolutely loved Justin. Justin was a baby and my dad would always offer to babysit him if my mom couldn't while I was working or on the road. He loved Justin. I remember how he would never ever drink, even when he had his retirement check, opting instead to buy food and clothes for Justin. He would take Justin to the library and check out books and then take him back to the apartment and read to him. He would teach Justin things and he was so good with Jus. My dad I think, was making up for what he missed with me and my brothers and perhaps my sisters.

I remember the night he died. Me and some of the guys in my band were on our way to talk to a club owner about playing at his club and party with a band we knew that was playing at the club. We had to get off the highway and cross Nevada Ave to go west and I remember looking down the road, about 2 or 3 miles and saw all the emergency lights. It was raining as it was April in Colorado and I made a remark to my buddies that there was an accident down by my dad's place. This was the day before cell phones were really even invented, so I couldn't call and my dad didn't have a phone anyway. I made a note of it and filed it away and proceeded to go party with my friends and only found out the next morning when my older brother Garrett woke me up to tell me that Dad had been killed the night before. I was just in shock when I realized that I had seen the emergency vehicles down the road the night before at the accident.

It took me some time. I think it just hit me really hard when he was buried, with full military honors, at Fort Logan Cemetery in Denver. I know that a couple of my sisters and my younger brother Bill had a really hard time as they had had a row with him and they were angry with him over something when he died. I wasn't. I went through the grieving process and little by little the pain eased for me. There are times that I can still hear his voice and see his face. It's hard to imagine that it was 24 years ago and now Justin is 26. I miss my dad sometimes. I know he's in a better place than here, as his alcoholism was getting worse and it was a matter of time before it finally killed him. But I have always wondered if he didn't purposely walk into the path of that car, though I doubt it. My dad wasn't big on suicide and the irony of it was, he wasn't even drunk or had drank any alcohol. He was actually walking back from the store with groceries to make stew with for me, my brother Garrett and Justin and we were supposed to go over that Friday night. He got killed Thursday night. As he got to take care of Justin more, he drank less and less and spent more time thinking about his grandson and talking to me about anything we could talk about.

There are nights like tonight where I miss my Dad, I miss Buddy, I miss just being able to hold a woman and just share a moment of complete silence knowing that we are together and the world can do what it wants and I couldn't care less. Let it go to hell. Maybe I am just feeling lonely right now, no, I know I am. There are times when I could appreciate a good woman and as I sit here tonight, thinking about my Dad, my Son, my Daughters and Buddy, I wonder, I just wonder. Life is a mysterious thing.

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