Sunday, May 21, 2006
Happy Birthday Dad..
Today would mark the 63rd birthday of my father if he had survived. I never got up early enough (I'm on 2nd shift this week) to get over to the cemetery, as I usually do, maybe tomorrow. He was my adopted father, which I mention only to differentiate him from my bio-father who I have posted about recently. I was adopted at birth (well placed at 2 months actually) and for the first 20 years of my life he was the only father I knew.
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My parents divorced when I was about 3 years old, and my dad moved away to Boston soon after, establishing an Interior Design firm which grew to include additional offices in New York City and Ogunquit, Maine. He would pick me up on weekends when he could get away, at times regularly, and at others, well not so much. I idolized him, despite the "flaws" and "irresponsibility" he suffered from according to my mother and step-father. This didn't sit well with them of course, but their words passed in and out of my young ears like weightless air. He could do no wrong, and while I would cry my eyes out when he missed a weekend, as soon as he would arrive my grin would be ear-to-ear.
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My father was gay, and after leaving my mother came out of the proverbial closet. This was the mid 1970's and well perceptions and acceptance were completely different than those of today. As a matter of fact, after learning my father had included his lover in a daytrip we took one Saturday, my mother initiated court proceedings which ended in eliminating our overnight visits and establishing the Saturday 10-6 schedule which lasted until his death. Given that he could no longer keep me overnight, and that he lived at times in Boston, New York and Maine this resulted in many missed visits. I understand now much more easily than I did back then (naturally) but it was fuel for my mother and step father's attempts to reduce the bond between us. My step-father even tried to adopt me (a very noble gesture, one which I have come to understand and respect him for) however as part of the process, I was interviewed by a court appointed psychiatrist and well, that session squashed any possibilities for the adoption to occur. He was my dad and nobody was going to take him away from me.
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My father began taking drugs at some point (just when I have no way of determining) and it became a very serious problem. His Firm soon began to suffer and eventually closed it's doors sometime around 1981. He moved back home to Western Massachusetts and began working for his father. I was very young, but I remember his spirit had been broken, he looked perhaps 10 years older than his years and he was always broke.
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Finally, on October 9th, 1983 while vacationing in Maine, Dad passed away as a result of a cocaine overdose. He was just 41 years old. He never was able to see me grow into a man, or know his grandchildren, although his mother and sister try and make sure his memory remains alive and well in their minds. Sadly I am sure they don't give him much thought, a distant intangible figure about whom they are probably not even curious.

This is the last photo I have of my father, taken about a year before he passed away. Notice the family Crest I made him hold (even then I was into family history and genealogy). I had received that Polaroid camera for Christmas the previous year, and went around photographing anyone would would let me. He was just 39 in that photo, yet looked easily in his 50's, alcohol and drug abuse, incessant bouts with dieting and weight gain. I have taken great examples from his failures, most importantly hardly letting a weekend pass without seeing my children, having never touched a drug (apart from smoking, which I have tried maybe 4 times) and maintaining a healthy diet and weight consistently for the past 10 years. He taught me so many things even in death. I love you dad, wherever you are.

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Well I am working 2nd shift tonight thru Thursday covering a vacation. Of all the shifts this is my least favorite. I worked these hours during my entire marriage and hated every minute of it. You get home at 11:30 , stay up till maybe 1AM then sleep till 11, eat something, and go back in for 2. You have no life whatsoever. Oh well, I do get an hourly differential so that's something in any case.

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I went out last night, for the 1st time in maybe 6 months (and it had been a year before that). I actually had 2 beers but am not upset about that, at least it wasn't vodka and I nursed them for most of the night hardly catching a buz. I had a blast, hung out with some friends, met a couple new ones caught up on stuff and laughed tons. I forgot how much fun a night out can be.

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Laters :)

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15 Comments:
Blogger . said...
We all need a night out once in a while.

What a tribute to your dad. It gives us a whole new respect to the man YOU are.

Blogger Kiss My Mike said...
that is so sweet of you to post about your dad, jim. i cannot recall the last time i told my dad i love him. i have a good relationship with my dad, but somehow i find it hard to say those words.

Blogger Kalvin said...
This is really touching. It's strange to me in some ways. In some ways, most of the gay men who's fathers were gay that I know, don't have them around anymore (myself included). I'm glad you were able to learn so much from him, and it's giving me new inspiration to see what I can learn from mine.

And I'm so happy that you had a good time while out. In some ways, maybe the absence does make things better. Maybe.

Blogger Michael said...
That was a GREAT tribute to your dad. Made me think about mine which is something I don't do very often any more.

And it's good to hear that you got out last night and had fun. I sort of did the same but I sat around jawing it up at the shop :)

*hugs!*

Blogger Polt said...
Very touching tribute to your father. I'm sure he's proud of it, and you.

Glad you had a good time going out. I don't do it very much anymore either, but when I do, I normally have a great time. It's just the day after that I have issues with. :)

Hugs

Blogger Jim said...
He's still watching you and watching out for you. Its good that you keep his memory alive through remembering and writing :)

Ah, that reminds me, its almost time for my quarterly visit out to boyland. Glad you had a good night out!

Blogger Voyeur Lawyer said...
Great tribute to your Dad.....and I can totally relate as you've seen the way I've blogged bout my Mom.....it keeps em alive.....hope you're day was reflective.....but inspiring!

Blogger Brad said...
I told you the story once I think about my son and his real dad. Uncanny parallels to the story you posted... including the death from cocaine overdose only he was 32 at the time.

Glad you got a night out! All work and no play is not mentally healthy. You just GOT to make time for YOU once in awhile!

Blogger Kevin said...
Good for you. I know you've been needing a night out.

Blogger Hanuman1960 said...
A very lovely tribute to your dad... :)

Blogger Miz BoheMia said...
You have me choked up from the beautiful tribute to your dad. He sounds like he was wonderful and oh-so human like us all! I have found that with time, the pain of losing such a loved one increases.

My granfather and my brother, probably the only sane and the most loved member of my highly dysfunctional family, both have passed away and I find that the older my children get and the more time that goes by the more the pain of their loss for me... and a huge part of it is the fact that to my children, no matter how much I may mention them, they will never really be real, just a sweet story about some sweet people and that's it.

Here's all my love to you and wished that your dad is fine wherever he is! I am sure that they are all better off wherever they are than they ever were here though!

I am glad to hear you went out and had such a good time! Life can easily weigh us down and laughter is just the best antidote! Here's to much laughter for one helluva guy bohemians everywhere just looooveee!

Blogger Donald said...
A great tribute to your Dad. My dad died at 67, and I thought that was too young, so to lose one's dad at 41 is so tragic. Glad to hear you had a fun night out. Take care.

Blogger Nick said...
Your dad was a great man.

Blogger Miladysa said...
Lovely tribute to your father! I am sure he knows how you feel about him.

that's so cool what you said about your father. It's taken me a long time to realize what a huge price my father paid, just for trying to live and love. Like yours.
I'm really into your openness and honesty and it makes me mad that somebody would try to use you like that.

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