The anniversary of my father’s death passed recently without anyone in my home realizing it until nearly a week after. It was I who noticed we had missed it, but I did not say anything to anyone in my home. Our kid was home from college. It was among the last days he was home before he would return to school for the spring semester. The needs of the living have always taken precedence over the mandates of attention to the dead.
I was working that day–the anniversary. I do not recall what else had transpired. I think perhaps I had gotten sushi take-out to bring home. One place we take-out from is on the way home from one site I teach at in the evening. I do not know what this says, and I am not asking this because I need to ask it, nor am I asking this question because I must know the answer. I have more in the way of a response than can be dreamed of by most people’s philosophy–more, that is, in the matter of intellectual and emotional weight or the weight of the matter of what I think, say and know. The philosophy of doubt has not overtaken me as it has subsumed so many of us who imagine we are thinking when what we are actually doing is randomly passing images or words-not even sentences or paragraphs–in the mind. No, doubt has not become the highest wisdom in me, and the daily affairs of living do take precedence over remembrance.
Remembering happens when it happens–recollecting is something that helps remembering or is the result and thus the after effect of having remembered. That I did recall at all is what matters. The pedantry of counting days or of marking them is not where my heart beats for my father. Notions of time, of infinity and of eternity must be handled appropriately and not within the narrow constraints of contemporary semi-literacy that is passing for literate enough. I do not watch calendars or clocks–I pay more attention to the sun, the moon and constellations passing across the night sky in what I like to call the con stellar clock. Keeping my father alive in memory is not the same as keeping his death or dying or having died alive, none of these latter variations on the theme of being dead the same as the former, keeping the memories of his living alive. He does live in me as he does still talk to me. I hear his voice as I hear mine now as I write. I really do not need anyone around me telling me what and where and when or how I should remember.
In memory alive or in memory dead. What is that I would like to know? I do not have to say it to you, that I know keeping him alive as I do day in and day out is far and above what marking the date on the calendar proves or disproves. This is a fact I assert most pronouncedly: I did think of him that day as I do and have done every day since the day he died, a date whose numerals I play when buying Mega Millions or Powerball tickets. I do not think of his dying except as but one of many images of my dad when recollecting him. The calendar is not part of the remembrance; it is not necessarily so that I must mark the date every year to appropriately remember him, pay homage to him, pay my respects to my Dad. I wish I could convince you otherwise, if in fact you disagree with me, but then that wish is just what it is and remains where it belongs, in the realm of wishing. All wishing is a past tense assertion for a present time lack, and in the end remains as useless as wishing for water from the moon.