Dearest Reader,

                 For many of you, this weekend will be a time of joyous celebration. An opportunity to honor an important person in your life… A man who has been the keystone in the bridge between your childhood and your brave forays into the adult world.

                         The superhero of your youth, and your guide through the troubled waters of adolescence. His blood courses through your veins and his smile occasionally crosses your face, or so you are told… Once upon a time, he was perfect but now, after the tribulations of time, he is perhaps…. just human.

                 I can not say that we all share the same experiences or feelings about our fathers, but I will wager that we have learned some things about life through the prism of his experiences and for that at least, I am grateful.

                        In a perfect world, we would all feel loved by those that gave us life. It is a fundamental need that nurtures us in ways we may not realize …

                      I sat in the hospital with my dad the other day. In the emergency room this time. He had taken a fall in the basement at home,  fumbling around near his dimly lit workbench, likely creating more work for me. lol  Probably fiddling with something that he was once capable of fixing, albeit in a way that might raise eyebrows and put a smile on the face of the inventor of duct tape… He ‘fixes’. I pick up the pieces.

                  Such has been the ‘dance’ in the past 10 years, since I returned to the hometown of my birth, to face the demons of my youth and to complete the circle- allowing my elderly parents the option to live their golden years the way they had always envisioned- living those years in the house my father built with his own hands, finishing just 2 months before my birth. The little red Cape Cod house that sits at the bottom of Indian Hill, amongst the evergreen trees and the flowers planted by my grandparents so many years before.

              It has been a long, amazing, and sometimes difficult journey for me, but also for him. As the years tumble by, he becomes more stooped and his once strong physique betrays him, his back painfully twisted,  the medication he takes fogging his senses. Monday, as I helped a nurse reposition him on the gurney he was sliding off, he beseeched God as the pain became intolerable. He said, “God, what have I done to deserve this?”

             I must admit, that at that moment, I had two conflicting thoughts. The first was that no one should suffer that kind of pain, either from the vicissitudes of life or at the hands of another. It broke my heart to see him like that once again.

                 The other brings me great shame, because I had the thought that maybe his pain was a result of the great pain he has caused me, as a gay child of God who has felt abandoned by the one person who was supposed to love him unconditionally. I sat there for a long time after that, asking God for forgiveness. I still feel torn by that…

                   So, I  sat with him and tried to provide comfort in whatever way I could, helping him to preserve his modesty as he was forced to change from his street clothes into a hospital gown for the barrage of tests…His head was badly gashed and there was a worry that he may have had a stroke.  People were prodding, poking, and questioning him. Denying him the simple comfort of something to drink… All for his own safety, but having the net effect of stealing from what is left of the reservoir of pride that the father of seven children should be allowed.

                            This was, after all, a man who served his country at a time of war. A first generation, Lithuanian- American, who worked hard to support the family he and my mom created. Perhaps life would have been easier had they done things differently… But, what is done is done, and I have to believe, part of His plan. It is not mine to question. The past few years have been full of too many of those questions… Many that may never be answered.

                        I suppose that’s part of my melancholy – that I would like to share some answers with him, but will likely never have the opportunity.

                           So, why did I start to write this?

                  Probably because as I sat there, talking to my dad, I came to understand something about us that I knew in my heart forever. He will leave this earth soon, and when that happens the circle will close just a little more. I can pretend that his leaving will free me to be myself. The little boy who loved everyone and was able to forgive the worst, no matter how he was hurt. But without forgiving the hero of my childhood, there will always be a deep sadness in me so that when my time has come, I will not be at peace.

                        I don’t want to carry that with me for the last part of my life. So, today, I’ll honor the hero of my childhood by telling him for the first time in many years, that I love him. I hope you do the same… Laimingas Tevas Diena. Happy Father’s Day, Pop!

love, Tony

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