On this date in history, in addition to recollections reverent memorials and extending warm birthday greetings, I will recall the first conversation I'v had with my father in . . . I don't know how long. It would have been long before Katrina, for he called sometime after, but got my machine. I called him back, getting his machine and from that moment to this, SILENCE.
He'd called me way back when in (delayed) response my my reaching out to him in the aftermath of Katrina. The various (and as it turns out, unreliable) reports were of little comfort and I sought to communicate with him directly. That effort added yet another chapter to our storied history.
Slowly churn to September, Twenty Eleven. In the round-about, circuitous, in-direct style of communication that has become an Olympic sport for my Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Brothers, and Mom. I discovered my dad has lung cancer.
I did the only thing this only daughter could do, I contacted my younger brother and asked for our dad's contact information. And then I called James. As it happens he wasn't home. His mother-in-law volunteered (way too much, imo) information and to take a message. The exchange between she and I, who have never met was a bit like the Costello's "Who's On First?" routine.
When she asked which daughter I was I admit to having my heart shattered in a million different pieces. Later, after thinking it through I rationalized that there wasn't any reason to expect her to know he only has the one and for that one to be on the phone on that given Saturday. But still, I'd decided my next attempt at communication would not be via the telephone.
On Sunday, September Eleventh, Twenty Eleven my dad called me. His opening line, "do you know who this is?" mended the million shattered pieces to some degree. Our conversation was easy, considering the history and we talked for as long as his energy would allow. He was direct and frank about the onset of the disease, the treatments, the side-effects, and his resignation to what is and what will be.
He signed off with professions of love and promises to stay in touch. We may or may not talk again and I think I may be fine either way because I do now have September Eleventh, Twenty Eleven and it shall be woven into the fabric that is the story of James and his only daughter, Deborah.