Monday, November 26, 2012

A cloud called Harry

You would call him a scientist.

When you dedicate your life to search for something you may never find the answer to – that made my father a scientist. Apart from the lab, living a regimented life; a life of exactitude was the order of the day.  From this perspective my father was a moderate rebel - he loved baseball.
We went to a Detroit Tigers game when I was 10 years old. I had never seen a big league game and I had never seen so many people in one place before. I had never felt the hope and disappointment of so many people before. It was a doubleheader with the Yankees.  The Tigers got swept. My Dad never said anything, but I knew he was happy.
In the summer he wore permanent press short sleeve shirts. His 4 shirts were white, light blue, light green and yellow; then the rotation would replay itself.
I was always surprised he was such a big Yankees’ fan; especially growing up on the west coast. As a boy he put together a crystal radio set.  He listened to the Yankees' games on dreamy California summer nights.
Somehow, I found the timing odd when he died.  It was just before the All Star game; just when the pennant races started to heat up. The Yankees had won it all the year before.   I have a confession to make - I am relieved I wasn't there when he died. I confess, I would not have wanted to be there to see him struggle in the chaos of trying to extend his expiring life.  He was going to die that day.  Maybe this means I was not a very good son and maintained that legacy as a father.  Still I am thankful, I wasn't there.
After the funeral, we returned to my parent's home. I went from room to room, faster and faster. I went to every room in the house.  Then I did it again. I thought I could find him. I considered my father to be a fairly thoughtful man; who may have cut himself the deal of a lifetime.  He wasn't really dead.  We just couldn't find him. He kept moving his existence quickly to another new location. When I would finally catch up to him; he'd look up at me with a wry smile and say, "You found me."  When I would ask him why or how he would turn and quietly go back to watching the ballgame.
I never had a conversation with my Dad that lasted more than 5 minutes. Actually, we never spoke for more than 90 seconds. He just wasn't a talker. 
To make up for this brevity, everyday I look up into the sky and pick out a cloud thinking that cloud is him.  It's like I finally found him in that room he was hiding in.  On perfectly cloudless days, I figure he's having a blue skies kind of day.  Usually he's the tiniest, fluffiest, wispiest cloud not with a cluster of other clouds; but alone and happy in his singularity.  I might change my mind once or twice before I know, it's really him.  In keeping with the conciseness of our earthly conversations, I'll simply say, "Hi Dad.  I'm thinking about you today."

My Dad's name was Harry.