The Long Goodbye

This is going to be a short post. The reason is my father died yesterday. He was eighty-four and finally succumbed from an illness that had been plaguing him for the last two years. He had a long and interesting life, and his last month had been difficult, to say the least, so his passing is a good thing. He’s not in pain any more.

I loved my father but he was a complex man. Far from soft and cuddly, he was disciplinarian who had mellowed somewhat in his later years. He lived by his own rules and didn’t care what others thought of him.

He was a contradiction in terms. He was both brilliant and ignorant, strong and weak, a family man and often the antithesis of what constituted family values. Growing up on the rough-and-tumble streets of Boston, he rooted for the Yankees and Montreal Canadians. His own father made him quit high school in order to go to work and yet he was smarter than many MBAs. He was a Navy man who spent time in the brink. He saved every penny he made and lived like a miser. He wanted me to go to college but gave me not a dime for tuition. He always claimed to be a teetotaler and looked down upon those who drank. ‘Allegedly’ he hadn’t had a drink in over forty years, and yet the first thing he asked for after coming home from the hospital was a gin martini with two olives. Go figure.

I’d come to terms with my father’s personality years ago and had forgiven him his many transgressions. He had many good sides to him and could be charismatic and warm when he wanted to. It made life easier for me to forgive and move on, especially during his last years. One thing that made him proud was to see his son become a published author. My mother, who passed away many years ago, was a big reader. Later in his life, my father had become a voracious reader of fiction, as well. He was proud that I was a writer, but always asking about the money end of it. “You make any money on that book?” he would always ask. In many ways, he equated literary success with monetary gains.

I hope he’s in a better place. Never a religious man, he allowed a chaplain to visit him in his final days. He prayed with his girlfriend, who was there with him to the very end.

My father died yesterday and that’s all I got for this blog. No need for condolences, as I know many of you are kind and caring people. Rather, if you’re so inclined, please say a quick prayer for the complex man who raised me.


About joesouza

I am a writer of crime novels
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13 Responses to The Long Goodbye

  1. mecharacter says:

    No matter how prickly they are, we still love them. So sorry for your loss, Joe.

  2. I too, am sorry for your loss, Joe.

  3. L.C. Rooney says:

    The parent-child relationship is often complex. The effects are lifelong, and some of us fare better than others. I am glad you came to terms with your relationship long before this loss, for it is still a loss. You are in the thoughts and prayers of many of your fellows today, Joe.

  4. Julianne Spreng says:

    Sounds like a lot of adults and parents from his era. Contradictions deluxe. My mum is similar in many ways. All you can do is exactly what you did…come to terms with those contradictions and continue to live your life for yourself. Hugs and understanding from me.

  5. John Greco says:

    My sincere condolences, Joe. May he rest in peace.

  6. kaitcarson says:

    Hugs, Joe, and prayers for you, your family, and your father. It is always difficult to lose a parent, and best to remember that they did the best they could with the tools they had, as we do with ours, but it may not be what’s needed.

  7. maggierobinsonwriter says:

    This was very moving, and a reminder that none of us are perfect. To accept the imperfections as you have shows grace and wisdom.

  8. John Clark says:

    Had a similar end of the road relationship with my father.

  9. Bill Carito says:

    Sorry for your loss, Joe. Parents and children, always complex.

  10. Julie Mills says:

    I get it. My father in law, complex, argumentative, downright nasty at times, died 6 weeks ago. My mother in law, with whom he had a most prickly 72 year marriage, and for whom complex doesn’t come close, followed him 3 weeks later. I’m sure there was no need to part the pearly gates as she most likely stormed then, under a full head of steam, wielding a cast iron frying pan, leaving a grand finale of profanities in her wake. I get it, Joe. We will miss them, won’t we?

  11. Christine Bresnahan says:

    Hey, cousin! Your dad was definitely his own person— I remember so many family moments as a kid in Quincy, and visiting him at the barber shop in Newton later in life! My mom loved to go toe to toe with him— neither of them would yield a single point. The Irish Catholics weren’t always very kind to that Portuguese upstart, but after we lost your mom ( so tragically young) your dad still showed up for any family gathering or funeral…often wearing a very cool hat! I’ll say a prayer for gruff, tricky, complex Uncle Joe, but also for you, my man…without him, we wouldn’t have brilliant you and your wonderful family. Sorry for your loss— I’m feeling it, too.

  12. MICHAEL SHEA says:

    Joe sorry to hear about the passing of your dad, I have great memories of the beach wagon rides to hoop games and little league with a big old cigar in your dad’s mouth, a much more simpler time, our fathers were very similar they were our parents not our friends growing up, later in life I hope you had a friendship like I do with my dad, he is still going and will be 84 in January. PJ directed me to this blog I wish you luck in your endeavors

    Michael Shea

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