With love for my father – Fridays with Billy.

My father, Ted Hauser, and me.

It was my father’s 82nd birthday on Wednesday, but he wasn’t here to celebrate: He died of cancer when he was 35 and I was 10 months old.

As a child, I think I believed that grown ups stop missing people who died long ago. I think it seemed a little odd to me when a grandmother would start talking about her own grandmother with sorrow.

I’ve realized, of course, that loss never really ends. We live differently with it over time, but it’s always there. I am always, and will always be, a little girl wanting to hold her dad’s hand.

82 years ago,  in the very hospital and on the very floor on which my daughter was born (coincidentally on the anniversary of his death), my father was born, a tiny, wrinkled thing, a baby — a promise. Not anyone’s dead dad yet, not anyone’s dead husband. Just a promise. I wish he could have lived more of that promise out before he was taken from us.

Billy Bragg wrote a lovely, aching song of sorrow and missing for his own father, and while it seems odd to sing it for my dad — the lyrics show that Billy has very clear memories, and I have not a one — the grief in his words feels like the grief in my own heart. So: This is for you Daddy. I love you.

Some photographs of a summer’s day
A little boy’s lifetime away
Is all I’ve left of everything we’ve done
Like a pale moon in a sunny sky
Death gazes down as I pass by
To remind me that I’m but my father’s son

I offer up to you
This tribute
I offer up to you
This tank park salute

full lyricsWhat is Fridays with Billy?

Crossposted at Emily L. Hauser In My Head.

5 Comments

  1. dmf

     /  February 17, 2012

    for fridays and fathers who always leave too soon
    “My Father’s Lunch,” by Erica Funkhouser

    Saturday afternoon,
    he’d sit at the kitchen table
    in khakis and a workshirt.
    White napkin, a beer, the serrated knife.
    Pieces of prosciutto or headcheese
    or kippered herring
    layered on slabs of black bread.

    Outside, the ripe hayfields
    or the stacks of shutters
    or the forest needing to be cleared
    or the snow needing to be pushed aside
    lay still as they waited for him
    to finish his lunch.

    For now he was ours,
    whether he smelled of chokecherry,
    tractor oil, or twine.
    He’d washed his hands
    with brown naphtha soap
    and splashed water onto his face
    and shaken it off like a dog.
    He’d offer more ham, more bread
    to anyone who sat down.

    This was work, too,
    but he did it slowly, with no impatience,
    not yet reminding the older boys
    that he’d need them later
    or asking the smaller children
    if we’d stored the apples
    or shoved last year’s hay
    out of the wonderful window
    to nowhere.

    This was the interlude
    of nearly translucent slices,
    of leaning back in the smooth wooden chair
    and wiping white foam from his lip
    as the last beads of beer rose calmly
    to the surface of the glass.
    We could see it was an old meal
    with the patina of dream
    going back to the first days
    of bread and meat and work.

    All our lives, my brothers,
    my sister, and I will eat
    this same meal, savoring
    its provisional peace,
    like the peace in the grain room
    after we’d scooped the grain
    from the bins, and the sticky oats
    and the agitated flakes of bran
    had slipped back down into the soft valleys
    where they would remain
    until it was time to feed the animals again.

    • Beautiful.

      We could see it was an old meal
      with the patina of dream
      going back to the first days
      of bread and meat and work.

      Just beautiful.

  2. socioprof

     /  February 17, 2012

    What a lovely tribute.

  3. dmf

     /  February 17, 2012

  4. this is beautiful. sad, and beautiful.