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a passionate repentance



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may God stand
I went to visit my mother, yesterday. And I could talk about feeling tired, about all the craziness that being with someone who really knows how to push your buttons can bring. Or how easy it is to overreact. But I don't want do do that right now. Because that's not what I remember most strongly.

My father was always this big, strong guy. Big, well..six foot isn't that big I suppose, but he always *seemed* that way. He would come home from work smelling faintly of metal and cold, fresh air. I always wondered why he smelled like that when we lived in Arizona and California, two of the hottest places ever, surely. (In Merkia,anyway.) He'd play with us, rough-housing on the floor, letting us climb all over him, even me, and scream and giggle and tickle and say things to make him chase us..and we loved every second.

He was the only person who understood that a person in a cast doesn't always want to be entertained, they want to be *busy*. They want to *move*. That it's not being able to change position that makes you absolutely crazy. He kind of loves that whole business thing a little TOO much in my opinion. He used to keep these big old coffee cans full of nuts and bolts and screws from his work fiddling with the car or working on the house. And he'd get all three of us out there, and make us sort out these screws and bolts and nuts into seperate piles. (I secretly think he mixed them back together when we went inside but we never figured it out.) We'd be good kids for a little while anyway, while the sun beat down and warmed the tops of our heads. Then Trish and Melinda would run off to play and I'd try to slink off to read a book somewhere. Heh. Try.

He was this..presence, like an anchor or a touchstone. The free place on your Bingo card. He taught me to ride a bike. It took three days of crying and tantrums before I figured out how to get *on*. He just let me cry.

Now..he's like the incredible shrinking man. He's so *small*. His skin is blotchier than it ever was, and his hair is mostly this sandy-silver color. He walks tenatively, not the way he used to. More the way *I* used to walk, without the ataxic wobble. He has this silence around him that I suppose comes from not being able to hear, but also from depression. It's a kind of waiting quiet, like he was just listening for a signal of some kind to get started.

He wants to make this hovercraft. No, correction. He's *making* this hovercraft. It's this huge thing in the back yard, almost always covered with a blue plastic tarp. But he's making progress with it, and I have to wonder if he's really going to use it, or just make it and then..I don't know. Give it away, maybe. When we were younger, we girls, we'd all talk about What We Were Going To Be When We Grew Up. And he'd talk too, although we kind of thought it was strange that someone who *WAS* grown up would want something when he grew up.

He wanted to live on a houseboat. I never understood the allure, but he loves the idea that he can move, anywhere. GO anywhere. At any moment. He really liked all the travelling that the Air Force made him do. He never seemed to mind the moves, although I bet he got very tired very fast of hearing about US whine. He doesn't talk about the houseboat now. I don't know if the idea doesn't really appeal any more or he's just put it away as something he's too old for. I can understand it if he's moved on. I used to want to be a nun, until I discovered that you had to cut all your hair off. And that there really weren't any Methodist nuns.

(I didn't really *want* to be a plain old boring Methodist anyway. I wanted to be Catholic and mysterious and interesting and have beads and incense in church and kneel and sing and respond to things and DO stuff, not just..get there and sit there.)

I remember too, before I forget. He had a telescope. Still does somewhere. And he'd take it out now and then and watch the sky. I never knew what he was watching, but I remember he let me look a couple of times. I was um..kind of dim (I was also kind of young) and more interested in looking at far away cars and dogs and cats suddenly get bigger and close up, than the stars and planets.

I remember he showed me the moon through the telescope. It didn't really seem all that exciting. I didn't understand why people'd made such a fuss about going there. I thought it was interesting that there were so many cool craters and shadows, but it was just a rock. There was nothing going on. I wanted *aliens*. I wanted Mr. Spock.

I wonder if he remembers any of this? I wonder if he remembers wanting to live on a houseboat? I wonder if he feels that he never got to be what he wanted when he grew up?
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