A Time of Permanent Goodbyes

Hartford City Travel Blog

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This is a combination of journals that I wrote during that time along with my own memories.

Today is my last day home.  I will leave this evening, get a hotel room close to the Indianapolis Airport and fly back to my other home across the ocean, leaving early tomorrow morning.  The past two weeks have been surreal with a combination of jetlag, sleep-deprivation and the adrenaline of knowing  that these moments will be the last moments I will ever see my father alive.  The one of the worst things is everything that I have waited to get done now that I am back in the States has all come down to today. 

Last night I was able to see one of my best friends from high school.  Three of the five of us who made up my clique from that period in life still maintain some semblence of contact through the internet.  Chris is the only one of the five that still remains in little Hartford City.  I have no idea whatever happen to Doug, but Terry is making his fortune in California, Craig has found some fame as a cartoonist unfortunately fortune has not followed him, and I am the nomad of the group.  Chris is a good guy, married with four children.  He might be one of the few vegetarian athetist republicans you will ever meet.  It was good to see him however briefly and talk about the Colts' next season as opposed to death. 

I spent part of the morning photographing the vast and swelling emptiness of a no-name town caught in a place extremely few seem to know and even less have the urge to discover.  There are miles upon miles of open space here where farms homes and barns serve as an oasis to ensure you do not feel totally alone.  If you drive fast enough down some of the roads you might feel the momentary sensation that you do have wings and it could very well be possible you can fly away from here under your own power.

Later, I visited my younger sister's gravesite.  It is something that i have never confessed to anyone before this time, but everytime I am back in indiana, I visit that site.  I cannot believe that 15 years have past.  I often wonder what the hell I have done with my life since that time.  It might be difficult to believe that I talk to her, as I am an Agnostic.  I do not know if anything can hear my words aside from the trees that grow beyond the shadow of her tombstone, but sometimes talking to the dead is a lot easier than talking to the living.  It is kind of sad thinking about it that many of us can never say the things we need to say, we have to say, to the living and it is often reserved as a confessional to the dead -- long after it could do no good to anyone except for perhaps ourselves.

I later visited my grandmother.  She is 96 and still lives on her own.  Out of all of my family members, my grandmother is that one person who I can look at and confirm that I do belong to this family.  She is easy to talk to and is always supporting.  But she looks older than she looked when I first got home and she confesses she feels bad that it is my father is dying and not her.  I tell her to quit talking crazy, she has to keep everyone in the family in check.  We just talk about everything and nothing.  That is the way our conversations always are.  A simple 15 minute visits always turns into a 2-3 hour visit where our conversations ramble.  I eventually tell her I have to get home and I will see her when I return next summer.  My brother will pick me up from home, we will visit dad and then he will drive me down to Indianapolis. I hug her and she starts to cry.  I tell her everything will be ok and I get into my dad's truck to drive home.  (This would prove to be the last time I would see my grandmother alive as she died a few months later.)

My brother and I are vastly different.  I think that every family can find someone often dubbed as a black sheep.  In my family, it is me.  And while the terminology "black sheep" often carries a negative connotation, in my family I do not think of it as a bad thing.  I am merely the family member who had to live his own life and do his own thing.  While I am proud of where I am from, for me to have spent the rest of my days there would have been the greatest sin I could ever commited against myself.   I had wings that needed to be used.  I know the rest of my family are proud of me, but i merely do not fit in.  My brother is closer to the rest of the family.  I often call him a midwestern redneck hillbilly cowboy and he would probably agree with me on that title as well.  He is tall and lanky, has some major league sideburns and is often wearing a John Deere cap or a cowboy hat.  My interests have always been music, writing, art and travel.  His interests are 4-wheel drive trucks, farming, beer drinking and basketball.  Yea, we are different, but even with that difference we are still brothers.  It seems like kind of a miracle that we are in the same family.  And while we are not brothers by blood (I am adopted), we have a brotherly bond even if it would be difficult for me to imagine either one of us haging out with the other if we were not brothers.  Still, I do go four wheeling with him and he will listen to me talk for hours about traveling or will visit a museum with me.  i hope we have both grown from those experiences

My brother is running late, but when he comes we talk the entire way to the hospital.  it is small talk or as it is commonly called here "shooting the breeze."  We stop by a drugstore along the way and i buy somethings as it will be Father's Day on Sunday.  I buy a toy flower to brighten Dad's drab hospital room a little.  The way i look at it, it will not need any water or sunlight, it might be the perfect plant.  I buy a card as well.  Funny, i have not gotten him a card for Father's Day in years.  This will be the last time.

My brother and i spend a few hours in the hospital.  Dad is not doing too well.  He is really weak and the combination of cancer and painkillers has given him an almost child-like mentality.  Maybe being child-like before death is a blessing, afterall most of us consider our childhood to be one of the most wonderful times of our lives.  I remember looking through this old photo album of dad as a child through his time in the military.  He looked happy when he was little, it was not always something that i often saw from him as a father.  It gets to that point where we have to leave.  I have this deep feeling of dread in my stomach, knowing this is the last moment I will ever see him or hear him.  This is a final goodbye.  I choke down any urge to cry and tell him "to quit harassing the nurses and to be nicer to mom" as i hug him one last time.  He hugs me back and says "ok" and then starts mumbling something no one can understand.  Mom hugs me and ask me to return home for a visit next summer if i have the time.  i promise her that I will.  My brother and i leave and there are hot air balloons in the air as some festival is taking place that weekend.  We do not talk as much on way down to Indy.    

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photo by: mickeyd302