JJ Vincent’s father died four years ago. But to JJ, there is still a very real part of his father here in the present.
I lost my dad almost four years ago, in December of 2009. He’d been ill for most of my life, so this was not a surprise. I’d known it was coming. It was just a matter of when. But he is far from gone. My mom swore he would never move to Alabama.
I beg to differ.
#1 I inherited a lot of photography equipment from him when he died. He’d done photography for most of his life and was strongly anti-digital. With his various disabilities, it was one thing that he would do almost until the end of his life. I could not bring myself to sell it, but I wanted it to go to a good home. I was in a fashion show earlier this year and was paired for a runway walk with a teenager. We decided to use cameras as props and I asked if he had an old camera—if not, I would bring bring him one. Turns out he had one, as he shoots in film. Kid with his own SLR. He left for college this week with two bags full of lenses, filters, flashes, and I’m not sure what else. Thanks, Dad.
#2 My mom was working on rearranging her house this past week and found several pieces of new and nearly new stereo equipment. My dad loved music. Most days when he was confined to bed or one of his easy chairs, he would have his headphones on, listening to classical music and opera for hours on end. He always had back up receivers, amps, and tape recorders, just in case. I had tried to sell them after he died, and my mom could not give them away. Now she finds them, I make one phone call, and they are getting a new home this weekend with a group of local musician. Thanks, Dad.
#3 A local theatre (Merrimack Hall) has a dance program for special needs kids, teens, and young adults. The teen/young adult group was invited to perform at a special event in LA, and the theatre did a fast fundraiser. This cause would have spoken to my father, as he, like these kids, spent most of his life being told, “No, you can’t.”, and then finding ways to do it anyway. Money that my father left allowed my mom to make a donation in their names. Thanks, Dad.
#4 My office received promotional items for an upcoming event we are doing. My father wore pocket watches his whole life, first because his father did, and after his father died, just because he liked them. Even as a teenager, he wore one, no matter how uncool anyone said it was. As an adult, medication made his skin so fragile that he could not wear wrist watches. At one point, he had upwards of twenty pocket watches, some of which I inherited. Guess what arrived in the promotional items box? One thing. A pocket watch. It has no connection whatsoever to what is bring promoted. But it landed in my office. I hope whoever it is given to appreciates it, or else my dad may haunt them, too.
#5 Tonight I was out with one of my friends, and asked what his license plate meant. It is his amateur radio license. My dad was a HAM radio operator until he was in his early 30’s, and this made him very valuable to the company he worked for for most of his life. He was very proud of his radio work and esoteric knowledge of all things related. My friend tonight was beaming that someone even knew what he was talking about, thought it was cool, and knew someone else who had done it. Thanks, Dad. Once again, you helped me make someone smile.
My dad was never what you would call a traditional father. He was disabled. He spent more time with music–classical, opera, folk, rock-and-roll—than just about anything else. He loved book about space, about science, about classic cars. He took me and my teenage friends to concerts. He never fussed much about curfews, although he never went to bed until I came home. He mixed argyles and stripes with wild abandon. He tried to teach me to bowl and supported any crazy thing I wanted to try (although I think he often regretted teaching me to play the spoons).
And he loved to find young people who shared his interests and make them smile, especially at Christmas when the Angel Trees went up, and he could give a kid in need something that other givers might overlook.
I’m not sure why he’s chosen now to make himself so known. But he’s definitely here. And I’m grateful that I’m getting all of these chances to make others—and him—smile.
photo: Italy Chronicles Photo / flickr