My pic for March 22nd was actually a scan, an image of me and my dad in 1970. I was called Cathy then, and he was Tony, and we had the same smile.
He died in 1992, on March 22, on a trip to Disneyworld with his wife and my younger (half) sisters, who were just little things then. At 7, Emilie’s best dress for the funeral was ruffly and sparkly. He was ill for exactly the time I was struggling to find my own voice in the world as a young adult, and to come out in a way that made sense, and we had some real connection moments, and lots of missed opportunities. He felt guilt and loss as his life ebbed, and he’d reach out sometimes, and sometimes I could respond, and sometimes I couldn’t. I didn’t know how to handle what must have been med-induced anxiety or paranoia (telling me about terrifying images of Nurse Ratched, for example when he was on dialysis, and I was at my desk at my first real job), and I didn’t know how to handle his fear of leaving everyone, guilt as he reflected on his life. I didn’t know how to handle my own fear, my own guilt. The unanchored anger I was trying to let go of, all tangled up with losing him as a day-to-day dad the first time, when I was 9 or 10.
The last time we spoke, he called me before his trip to Florida, and I was in the middle of watching a Star Trek, TNG episode with my then-sweetie, cuddled up in our cosy loft bedroom on a winter night. I didn’t feel like talking to anyone, hate the phone at the best of times, said I’d call him back. And I didn’t, and the next call I had related to him was my Grandmother telling me we’d lost him.
So much in those matching smiles 42 years ago, my chic red polyester 1970 pantsuit and his tucked chic scarf, open questions about how our lives would twine. In this photo, he was half the age I am now. I think of the two of them as occupying the same temporal territory, two people with decades to navigate, life ahead. Streams of connection that never really came back together before time ran out.