From the Sky - Part XIV

And there's one other odd little side note: yesterday I was out for a walk and I saw Dad's Fairmount parked at Bisbee's Hardware Store. I went inside. I couldn't find him, but his poker buddy Tommy Winston was in the plumbing aisle buying toilet parts. I asked if he'd seen Dad. Tommy had a list of parts in his hand, and he pulled a pencil from behind his ear and wrote me a note. I was stunned when I read it! It turns out Dad sold Tommy his Ford. Dad loved that old car, but he called Tommy up out of the blue the day after the funeral and offered to sell it at a price. Dad's driveway has been empty a while now. I've gone by several times to see him. Each time the Fairmount was gone and I assumed Dad was out gallivanting with his pals. Now I don't think he was anywhere at all, and that disturbs me more than anything else.

Now maybe I'm over-reacting, but it feels like I'm losing my father. I'm losing him the same way I lost Uncle Gio. Like Uncle, he's keeping us all at a distance, and I don't know why. He's disappearing. It's frightening how people vanish from our lives, isn't it? All the various ways we lose them.

Many times people just drift away. They go one direction, we go another.

Sometimes, like Darla, they abandon us.

Sometimes they vanish, like the mystery woman who twisted the hearts of Uncle and Grandfather Ernesto.

Some unfortunate people go to the elsewhere, like my girlfriend Emily. She was my best friend in high school. She nearly died after a horrible car accident on a high mountain road a few weeks before graduation. She lives in a long-term care facility, barely conscious of her surroundings. Her shell is still here, but sweet, carefree Emily is gone forever. She is living in the elsewhere. I visit her from time to time. I hold her hand and sing softly to her. Just once I think she smiled a moment, but I know in my heart she is never coming back.

And of course, sometimes people are stolen from us by death, as Uncle Gio was. We are forced to say our goodbyes at funeral homes, whispering prayers over their caskets and staring at their waxen faces.

The casket was closed and empty for Uncle's funeral. There was only a terrible hole in the ground where his house once stood. Nothing remained of my precious Uncle. The thought of that empty casket being buried was too much for me to bear, so I asked the funeral director to put a charm bracelet inside. It was a birthday gift Uncle ordered for me when I was a child. It came from Casa Vatoni, the 'toe of the boot,' and I remember how he smiled as he slipped it on my wrist.

I'm sorry; forgive me. I don't mean to cry! But I can't lose my father. He's pulling away from all of us, and I won't allow it to happen. If he begs off Sunday dinner this week I'm marching to his door Monday morning. I will not leave until he tells me what's going on. I can be as stubborn as he is. We Tarentella's do have a flair for pigheadedness, mystery and secrets, but we Tarentella's are also persistent.

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