He died the day after my thirtieth birthday, on November 11, 1988—forty-three days before Christmas. And the skies wept along with us.
Against the hauntingly beautiful strains of “Come All Ye Faithful” and “O Holy Night,” my father’s pain and suffering and the confusion of his blindness had produced tight, hard knots in my chest in that cheerless hospital where life and death co-existed.
And something of an incomprehensible nature rebelled within me, and I could not help wondering at the impostor in that hospital bed who was supposed to be my father; an impostor with sunken cheeks and skeletal frame who indulged in incoherent rambling and had the look of death upon him.
My father had been lean, strong, and wiry, with no fat to his muscles. A fiercely independent man, he had been sailor, manservant, fisherman, cook, stevedore, rum-drinker, womanizer, cart-pusher, fighter, hell-raiser and storyteller. His favorite singer had been Ray Charles and John Wayne his favorite Hollywood man.
The merry melody of “Jingle Bells” filled me with indignation and alienation. A man’s life hung in the balance and the atmosphere was being infused with this spirit of gaiety, laughter, joy, and peace on earth? Didn’t people understand? There was no peace here, no laughter—only pain and sorrow and despair.
Author’s note: The preceding is an excerpt from the story “A Christmas prayer” from the novella, “House of Tears”, now on Amazon Kindle