My brain has lately become very convinced you’re real. So I am going to indulge it.
LE is eight now. You wouldn’t believe how graceful and athletic she tends toward. She’s like…she couldn’t possibly be related to us, you know? I remember, Dad, how when I was a kid and you patted my back, and said, “Kid, you’re gonna be smart enough, and nice and all that. But you’ve inherited The Shumacher Grace. That means you trip over your own feet just standing there.” I’ve done that. To be fair it was usually wearing clogs, which are tricky…but anyway LE has learned to walk across the top of our monkey bars. WALK. It’s so terrifying but I can’t tell her to stop because it’s so beautiful.
You’ll want to know how the kids are brain-wise…that always mattered most. Well, LE is good student but she’s totally indifferent. There’s no competition in her at all, but no insecurity either. At her last conference her teacher told me she was at a 7th grade reading level. But she hates reading. Never does it for fun like I did. Her comprehension…that isn’t seventh grade level. It’s barely…butterfly level. Oh you’d have driven the fear of God into her by now if she were your kid. Well, probably the fear of everything, no offense. You’d have gone batshit with the constant talking and the not processing instructions. But as her Grandpa I think you’d just given the occasional deep sigh and laugh.
Jack is four. His real name is “John.” But he doesn’t take after you very much. More his own dad.
I still love Gus. I know you were dubious, meeting on the internet and him quitting his job before we were married. But ta-da…16ish years on and he’s proven himself a loving family man, a provider, and not a creep. The weird thing is that he and I really struck our rhythm after we realized we weren’t supposed to be you and mom. In fact, we were reversed. I was more like you, making things happen and demanding stuff, and he was the constant supporting never judging always adoring mom-sort.
I even have a Shop like you did. I call it The Shed though. It is a shed. I have old books and distressing medical antiques instead of ham radios. I wish you were hear to help me figure out how to better insulate it. I’ve done what I could but it needs more. See, silly little “oh hey ask Dad about the…” like those…that is why my brain thinks you’re still here.
You never stopped telling me how I needed to get a college degree. Just in case the man I married died or ran off on me, or whatever, I’d always be able to take care of myself if I had a degree. And you, a community college drop out! How did I never learn that while you were alive? Oh well. Different times. Anyway, I got the degree. I guess I’m the first in the family. It was the worst degree though, Dad. Writing. Might as well have been Philosophy of Farts, right?
Turned out no, actually! Remember Ro? Back in Sisters? Her dad wouldn’t let us leave his property till I choked down a filet mignon and you had really expensive scotch? Anyway, she married a writer, a real one, and he liked me and introduced me to editors. Fast forward two years and I’m in New York City signing a book contract with Little, Brown.
Yeah. The rest is just filler. I think that’s the part I need you to know. The thing I’ve resurrected you to say.
I didn’t fuck it up. You thought I would. The world was strictly composed of fuck-ups and successes, and I didn’t show the right stuff early on to succeed. To fragile, weak, annoying, in the way.
And in many ways I haven’t succeeded. Turns out there is grey area. You can sorta succeed or mostly succeed, and STILL not be a fuck up at all.
You thought I might go crazy for real, for awhile, huh? The hospitals and stuff. You couldn’t bare to visit and somehow you kept mom from coming, too. You HATED mental problems. The only comfort you ever had for me there was to say that mental problems happened to people who were smart. Thank you?
A therapist once told me that fear comes out as either anxiety or anger. So basically, you were as messed up as I ever was, you were just more stylish and terrifying about it. That’s probably why it disgusted you so much, to see me stuttering and terrified and crying. Oh you hated that. Anyway, my brain is good as it’s gonna get. I’ll always be gloomy and pissy, but you aren’t really one to point fingers are ya, old man?
Remember I’m a mom now too. Moms can’t afford to be total human wreckage. I bet you can’t see me as a mom. I was your Pee-Wee, Little Fart. Wiggle Worm, or just W. Worm, when I crawled into bed with you and mom. Now I’m the one getting a cold little foot jabbed in my gut at 5am.
So say you’re proud of me, Dad. I just realized that’s why I brought you here.
I love you so much. You were a large, angry, spoiled child half the time doing tremendous damage to people who loved you (no one knew that tho…all your friends thought you were amazing,…there was no convincing them you had a “temper”) and the rest of the time the most important, intelligent perfect man who walked the Earth. You had an effect on people. Mom worshiped you, no matter what you did, til the day she died in my arms.
I miss you so much. I have muscle memory of your enormous body when I hugged you goodbye or kissed your head at night. I can remember how you smelled. When memory can activate those senses, the ones that tell us something real and not just a thought, it’s like my brain is trying to trick me that you’re not gone forever. Oh god.
You’re gone forever.
I must not really believe that. Because I brought you back. You’ve been here for the last hour, reacting and reliving, explaining yourself and refusing to.
Until next time. Take care Dad. I love you.