Fatherless Child by
Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
know I write a little bit. I do it because it is fun. I do it to clarify my thoughts
and feelings. I do it to let off steam. I am not sure why I do it, but most of
the time I like it. This week, yesterday it was, though it feels like one hundred
years ago now, I had to write something. Just a very few words and you would have
thought it wouldn't have been so hard. I had to write my father's obituary.
If you had asked me sometime before last Saturday what I might have written, hypothetically,
I am sure that I could have come up with something passable, something concise
and clear which might have let you know who my father was. But faced with doing
it for real, his real obituary, all I could think to write was, "I love you, I
love you, I love you, I love you so much, I love you dearly. |
What I ended
up writing was the bare minimum of biographic information. Born here, studied
here, worked here. I did not write that even as a grown woman I considered him
to be the ultimate authority on almost any subject ("almost?" he asks with a cocked
eyebrow.). I did not write about his hands and the tenderness and sorrow I felt
as I saw them get thinner and older. I did not tell how tall and handsome he was
or how wickedly funny or how blue his eyes were. I did not write about the volumes
he could convey with his eyebrows. I didn't tell about how he loved sweets - cookies,
cake, marshmallow circus peanuts.
An obituary costs you almost $5.00
per five or six word line. That adds up quick, and while I don't want to seem
cheap, while in theory I don't care and would have loved to write a true picture
of the man we all admired and adored, $5.00 per short line makes you try to choose
your words. I just chose the wrong ones. I told about things that he was proud
of, or more likely the things that we were proud of, without giving any clue about
the man that he was.
But I guess that it doesn't matter. I guess if you
knew Stanley D. Bussey the obituary doesn't matter and if you didn't know him
there is no way that I could show who he was in those few lines. Besides, he is
my Dad, and you have your own, or had your own, so you can probably imagine what
I wanted to say.
Thursday my father and mother went to a steel drum concert at OU and had a wonderful
time. The kids all got to see him and they said that he was very happy and really
enjoyed the concert. I was glad to hear that he'd been feeling well and that they
all had so much fun. I didn't go because I'd worked that day. On Friday as I was
driving home I thought, "I've got to go over and see Dad. I haven't seen him since
we got back from our trip." And then I thought, "Oh, I'm very tired. There's plenty
of time. I'll see him next week sometime."
Now it is next week and I will
see him this evening. I don't want to see him though, I feel weak and sick when
I think about it. I know that I won't be seeing him really. I am confident that
my father is free now, that his body is young and strong again, that his lungs
are clear and that he is with the family and friends who died before him. I believe
it and know it, really. But thinking of seeing his face tonight - without him
in it - is almost too much for me to think about.
Tasks. Call these people.
Meet Mary to pick up the food. Don't forget cups, coffee carafe, napkins. Iron
the boys' dress shirts. Remember to take tissues. Ask Mom if she is remembering
to eat - every five minutes or so. Email a picture to the funeral home. Tasks.
I have had a lot to do and I am glad. The girls wondered if they should reschedule
their final exams and I told them not to do it. I asked them, "Can you think what
Grandpa would say about that? He would clasp his hands under his chin and bat
his eyelashes and say, 'Oh, Professor, my poor old Grandpa has died and I am too
overcome to take my finals. May I just have an A please?'" I have a commitment
on Friday and thought about cancelling, but imagined him wiping an imaginary tear
from each eye and saying, "Oh dear! I am a poor fatherless child and too grief
stricken to honor my commitments." He wouldn't have gone for any of that nonsense.
Every time I stop, Every time I finish a job, then there it is. My father
is gone and there won't be a chance to see him again for a while. Not here, and
certainly not tonight or tomorrow at the funeral, but somewhere, someday. And
I will be very glad. See ya Dap.