From the Sky - Part XIV

Before I continue, there is something I'd like to share. I'm worried about my father. Did I tell you he wasn't at Uncle's wake or funeral? "I'm not coming. I'm sick," he told Aunt Rae. Dad's pretty much indestructible, so I was concerned. Joe called him. Dad said it was just a stomach bug and not to fret. Let's just say I was skeptical. I'm sure something else is going on. Things were always tense and uneasy between my father and Uncle after I fell from the honey locust tree. Still, I can't imagine my Dad spurning the wake and funeral over something that happened so long ago. Such pettiness isn't in his nature. Yet Dad didn't pay his respects, and in my family that's a very, very big deal. Unless you're on the operating table getting a liver transplant or having brain surgery you go to the damned funeral home. When great, great Aunt Carmella died I was in labor the night of her wake. We stopped on the way to the hospital. Joe thought I was nuts, but in my family you crawl to a wake if you have to. I did get a pass on the funeral, so add giving birth to the short list of excused absences.

My aunts also had their differences with Uncle Gio. If anything their issues were deeper, yet they were at their posts in the receiving line at Torini's Funeral Home. They stood dutifully and stoically in their black funeral dresses, clutching their crumpled white handkerchiefs. They thanked each person who came and more than once deflected questions about my MIA father.

Dad hasn't been to a single Sunday dinner since Uncle Gio died, either. He says he's 'too busy.' Well, Dad has always been knee-deep in a dozen things at once but it's never kept him from the dinner table. Yet week after week it's the same excuse: 'too busy.'

Dad usually drops by my house unannounced a couple times a week. He shows up at the door with a box of cannolis, apologizes profusely for not calling first, then plays with his grandsons or helps Joe with one of my husband's endless lists of projects. He hasn't come by once since the funeral. He hasn't visited his sisters either. Something is keeping him away from all of us. I think it's the same something that kept him from the funeral home.

There's still more: he's given up his Wednesday poker games. The worst-kept secret on the planet is that Dad's a horrible poker player. I think he wins only when his pals let him win. They'd deny it, but they throw him a bone once in a while out of guilt. It's probably unnecessary. It's never been about winning for my Dad. He simply enjoys a night with his friends. Aunt Sal called him last week to ask if he wanted an antipasto platter dropped off for the game. That's when he told her the poker games were done. "I feel bad taking everyone's money," he told her. Of course, Sal started asking questions. And, of course, Dad cut the call short. Something about a leaky sink needing fixing. When Dad doesn't want to talk, he doesn't talk and that's that.

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