Damn

Dec 6 | Posted by: Andrea Zonn |

My New Year’s resolutions have already started.  I don’t know what it is that arises within me, usually at this time of year, that makes me want to take stock, reassess and take charge of some aspect of my life.  It seems to be a seasonal thing.  Three occasions a year when that need presents itself, vying for attention above all other matters, the other two being the first of Spring and the first of Fall.  Open the windows, shake out the cobwebs, and feel reenergized, claim new resolve.

 

But the moment at hand isn’t for open windows.  I’ve spent the greater part of the past week steeped in my late father’s life.  I’ve been procrastinating.  Monday marks eight years since his passing.  A grand pile of computers and hard drives landed in my studio a couple of months ago, courtesy of my brother Brian.  Prior to that, they resided in my mother’s garage, where they became home to a multitude of spiders and dust bunnies.  Three years ago, she moved them from the wreck of an office my dad had occupied at their former home.  For eight years, she’s been asking me to deal with them, and for eight years, I’ve been filled with dread.  And for good reason.

 

Every family enjoys some level of dysfunction.  We just do.  Every family establishes a system for communication and behavior that is only understood within the context of that household.  Behaviors that are exercised there rarely work in the outside world.  Mine was, and is, no different.  My father was a born professor.  Not just any professor, but the chair of his department at the University of Illinois.  He was used to students and faculty alike coming to him for guidance and learning.  He rightfully expected that of his children, as well.  I had no problem with that when I was actually a child.  But when I was finding my way as an adult, I didn’t always want or need to seek his counsel.  Sometimes he wanted to impose it on me anyway, and we had some ugly confrontations.

 

When he contracted melanoma, and then Guillain-Barre Syndrome, it was the beginning of the end.  Nearly two years he would spend in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation facilities.  GB immediately took away his ability to walk, the command of his arms, legs and fingers, and during more pronounced stages of his illness, even his ability to breathe and swallow.  That’s when my father disappeared.  That’s when my mother disappeared.  And I felt left to fend for my own well-being.

 

Immediately after my father’s passing, I wasn’t too anxious to get inside his head.  That little girl inside me had her own well-being to tend to, after all.

 

I’ve done, and continue to do a lot of healing.  I know that my dad was just in survival when he was sick.  His life was at stake, which meant that he simply wasn’t able to reach out beyond himself and nurture anyone else.  I knew that even then.  There are times when you have to leave your inner child waiting in the car.  It’s not safe to take them into some situations.

 

I do really miss him.  I miss his voice, and his wisdom.  I miss his laughter, and his enthusiasm.  I miss his curiosity.  I miss his smile.  And the sparkle in his eyes.

 

I miss him for Leonard.  I see him in Leonard.

 

So now, I’m ready to deal with the content of those damn computers.  Dinosaurs, they are now.  Machines that haven’t been turned on in at least ten years.  Slow.  Obsolete applications and software.  Floppy disks.  Scuzy cables.  Even a couple of my old computers that he claimed when I was done.

 

When my father passed, it was just too raw, too open.  For a long time.  Then I dreaded getting into his head.  In his life, he was always able to keep track of things, and had a half-assed system to organize the portion of his life’s work kept in these old computers.

 

There are no social security numbers, legal documents or other items embedded in these hard drives.  But there are compositions and their accompanying program notes.  There are love poems written to my mother.  There are song lyrics.  And album credits.  And liner notes.  And letters of recommendation.

 

But we didn’t know any of that.  Because I couldn’t bring myself to start the process.

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