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published: 2009-03-23

It’s been a while, I know. There are reasons. Sometimes words can’t possibly keep up with life’s natural flow. Writing sometimes even stops the flow.
I mentioned how my Dad had finalized his career. Yet I failed to describe he is now on a pilgrimage. I went to say goodbye to him the day before he left. His backpack was quite heavy.
“9 kilos,” he stated while cutting dead leaves off his trees, preparing them for spring. “You should never carry more than 10% of your body weight.”
I don’t even know how much he weighs. To think you can share someone’s house for eighteen years and not know this kind of thing. There was a small stack of things he still needed to pack on the table: his passport, the novel ‘Iberia’ by Michener, ear plugs, blister bandages, a guide, a battered cel phone, a small camera. His most important items, the items to be put into the backpack last, therefore within reach. On leaving, I felt I had to hold him. It was something I had seen a daughter do to her father some time ago. She, her brother and her parents were playing pool in a bar on the island I had gone to in order to write. I was sipping wine, watching her as she gave up on her game, draped herself on a chair and leaned over to her father. She put her arm around him. And kissed him. Not just once. She planted a thousand gentle kisses on his cheek and forehead. Her father let her do it.
I was thinking of her while saying goodbye to my father. Of how I’d like for him to allow me to plant one thousand kisses on his cheek.
During that same writing week I had walked along the beach and hollered insults at the understanding dunes. One of the things I screamed into the nothingness of the space above me was “if this character were my father what is it I’d want to tell him?” I had the answer. Right there. It came to me in a compact way. Like a stone that was thrown at me.
I left my distracted father that day and watched him diminish in my rearview mirror. I turned a corner. And that was that. I asked myself, “is there anything I still need to tell him?” My mind was a blank an neutral void. It had dropped the stone.

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