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  • In April, I went "home" again for the first time since 1996. I am from Indiana, living for the past 20 years in California. I consider California to be my Home. But my father has been slowly becoming more and more frail. Family reports were filtering in, but I felt I needed to bite the bullet at last and go back to assess his situation for myself. So I dutifully boarded a United flight and went back.

    It was difficult at first. I had been dreading the first sight of my dad. I knew he would have aged since my last memory of him. He had gone from the robust, outdoorsy man that I remember to a semi-invalid. The first sight of him was a bit of a jolt--but I quickly made the mental adjustment. There was Daddy, sans the old handle-bar moustache that I remembered---and without his "choppers." (his dentures) He looked frail, yes. But those bright blue eyes that I inherited from him still shone in his face and his smile was still that lopsided one that I also share with him.

    I spent only three days back in Indiana. Work here in California dictated that I not take too long for my trip. In that time, I spent about eight hours total with Daddy. I brought home some vivid memories of those eight hours.

    One of them was when my nephew and I took Daddy out for lunch. We drove about a half an hour from his home to my nephew's, and then to the restaurant. During that drive, my dad started to reminisce about where he had worked over the years. It struck me how he was almost talking to himself while he related the tale. It was almost as if we were not there but that he was recounting those years out loud for his own benefit. As if saying it out loud made it more real, less of the mists of memory. I listened. I learned things I never knew about my dad. I hungered for more, but we had arrived at the restaurant and he moved on to the matters at hand. How I wish I had a voice recorder as I knew I would never hear that story again in as much detail

    It was a bittersweet trip back "home." I knew it might be the last time I saw Daddy. I hope not, but he is very close to his end. I am glad I went, despite my anxiety. When I left, I told him "I'll see you next year, Daddy." I hope it is so. And next time--I'll take a voice recorder. He, after all, is the one who taught me how to tell stories.
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