The rules are simple.
1. Answer the question, If you could spend one more day with someone who would it be? Why? What would you want to talk to this person about? This can be someone you know or someone from history.
2. Tag as many as you want or as little as you want. Participate even if your are not tagged!!
3. (Optional) Include a link back to your original post if you were tagged by the person who you tagged . Invite others to comment back to the original post.
Before I write my post, let me do my tagging.
Chris, you're "it". Can't think of any one else, who hasn't already participated, that I'd rather read what you come up with.
Now, for my post. Lately I've been delving into a bit of prose, so if you'll indulge me, I'd like to do this one that way. My father, if he were alive, would be 60 next week. It was about this time of year in 2000 that he passed away from cancer that he didn't even know he had. My one more day would be a day sometime before he passed away that was early enough to talk to him without the effects of the cancer.
At the time he died, we hadn't spoken for more than 10 years.
I found him as I always found him, in his garage tinkering with his latest toy. In this case it was a '67 Impala Super Sport. The body was freshly painted: blue with a classic pin-striping down the side. He had the hood up and I could see that he was installing some shiny chrome plated thing onto an engine that already looked too clean and shiny to be practical.
As usual, he had one of his mini-cigars clamped in his teeth and an open beer can on the fender. His clothing of choice was always a greasy pair of blue jeans and a flannel shirt - thick, horn-rimmed glasses, and a home-made leather cowboy-inspired hat completed the look. He hadn't changed anything about his look in almost 30 years.
The moment I saw him, a hundred thoughts went through my mind. Anger, frustration, guilt, but overall a sense of empathy. This man had been my father, but the person he was now did not resemble the man who had worked all those years to provide for me and my brother. His face had the deeply wrinkled and leathered look of someone who constantly smoked, his stance and his gait were those of a man who was either intoxicated or was somehow physically impaired, probably from too much drinking.
I don't know how I got here, and it didn't really matter. Whether it was a wish that had been granted or whether this was a dream, I didn't care. I instinctively knew this would be the last time I would ever talk to him; I had a chance here and I wasn't going to let it go by without making the most of it.
"Hi... Dad". He slowly looked up and around the hood of the car, puffing out a cloud of blue-gray smoke. Without a word, or what may have been a grunt, he turned back to his tinkering. I didn't know what I expected him to say, but I was hoping for a little more of a greeting than that.
It had been a long time since we'd spoken but it wasn't that I hadn't tried. Numerous phone calls had gone unanswered and unreturned. A letter written recently was also unanswered. Why? I didn't know. I believed it had something to do with his long-time girlfriend and new wife. Her daughter, who lived very close by, had begun having children and they were probably spending a lot of time with their new grandkids. My wife and I, even though we had three kids and lived less than a hundred miles away, seemed to have been pushed aside.
I walked around the trunk of the car and entered the dank garage. Along with the car and a huge tool bench, that was currently strewed with an assortment of wrenches in various states of cleanliness, the garage held an undefinable collection of wood, metal, and glass. Boxes, shelves, and much of the floor space were taken up with what only could be described as junk. Why he was saving all this stuff, I would never know, but he had always been that way. He never threw anything away.
"Dad, I really need to talk to you.", I ventured.
"What do you want? I don't have any money.", he said without looking up. He was using a socket wrench to tighten down his piece of chrome.
"No, Dad", I had never asked him for money before, so I don't know where that question had come from, "I'm here for you. I need to tell you something."
He stopped, put down the wrench, and picked up a shop rag to wipe his hands. He took the cigar out of his mouth long enough to take a long pull on his beer. He seemed to be looking me over, considering whether or not I was on the level. Maybe it was the tone in my voice, maybe it was because this was a wish or a dream, but without a change in his expression, he put down the beer, crushed out the cigar and said,
"Alright, let's talk.", he led me out of the garage to a weather-beaten pic-nic table on the grass in the front yard. He gestured to one side as he sat on the other, hands folded in front of him as if he were expectantly waiting what I had to say.
This action was so out of character for him that I was taken aback. Every other conversation we had was over a greasy engine block or between the whines of a table saw as he worked on his latest project. To have him actually sit down and listen, that never happened. So now that I had his full attention, what was I going to say?
Dream, wish, vision, whatever you want to call it, had granted me knowledge. I knew he was sick and didn't know it. At most he had about 5 years left. The cancer had already basically destroyed his lungs and liver and an inoperable tumor was growing near his heart and would eventually squeeze it to the point that it would stop. But, for whatever reason, I wasn't allowed to tell him. This opportunity was about spending the day with my Dad, and more than anything I just wanted to talk to him and have him listen.
Now the opportunity was before me. He was sitting, waiting, and ready to listen. I sat across from him as he had offered. I looked him in the face for the first time in many years. I could see what I already knew, that he was dying. The look in his eyes betrayed a weariness that only pain and illness cab bring. He looked impatient, but he leaned over his folded hands, waiting for what I had to say. So I dove in:
"Dad, I know haven't talked in years, and even when we did it was always about work or cars and we've never really talked about life, about the serious things.
"So I'm here today to tell you things I always wanted to but never could."
He didn't answer, but looked briefly down at his hands, cleared his throat, and waited for me to continue.
"I know the truth about the relationship you had with my mother. I know the things you gave up to raise me and my brother. I know that you feel that the job you have now, you were backed into and didn't choose it. There is nothing I can do or say that even comes close to expressing gratitude, but Thank You."
I waited to see if he would respond. His expression remained tense and impatient.
"The divorce was hard on me, and even harder on my brother, but I understand why it happened. I don't know why you made the choices you did, but I understand that those choices put you on a course that couldn't have taken you any other direction. At first I tried to make the best of it, but I was a kid and I was angry and I let the anger rule my life for a long time.
"My wife helped me try again. We gave you an opportunity to get to know your grand kids, we visited as much as we could. I don't know what happened, I don't know why you stopped answering our calls or why you didn't answer my letter, but I'm here now and I don't want to talk about any of that, that's all behind us and nothing can change the way things are now. I just want to tell you some things."
He didn't respond. His expression didn't change. Was he really listening or not? Was this part of the dream or vision, that I wouldn't know what's going on in his head? Maybe, but he had always been like this. Not cold, just non-emotional.
I talked a lot about my marriage, my kids, my mangled work history, as much as I could think of, so he could know about me and my family, his family. He listened, always remaining non-emotional, but he listened.
As the day got late, I could tell that I was pushing the limits of his patience. So, I got to the final thing I wanted to tell him.
"Dad, there's one more thing I want you to know. You know that when I was younger I went to a lot of church camps and stuff. I don't want to say that those weren't good things for me, but recently I've found out I really didn't know what church was about. My wife took me to her church and the pastor there explained a lot of things that no one ever told me before. Dad, I've gotten to know Jesus, the real Jesus and I want to tell you about Him.
"We've never talked about church before so I don't know if Grandma and Grandpa ever took you to church, I don't know if you've ever had anyone tell you this stuff, so I'll just lay it all on the line.
"God loves you, Dad. God loves you so much that He sent His son to die for you, to take the punishment for all the things you've done. You may not agree that you deserve punishment for all the wrong things you've done, but I know if you think about it there is something that you've done wrong that you can't forgive yourself for.
"The good news, Dad, is that it's ok. God loves you and he wants to forgive you for that, and for all the other things you've done. Jesus came to die for you, to take the punishment so you don't have to.
"If you accept that, if you believe that, if you will be baptized to wash away those bad things and start a life knowing God loves you, then you will be forgiven.
"Dad, I'm going to heaven because I've chosen to believe and be baptized. More than anything, I want to see you there. That, more than anything else I've said today, I want you to hear. I only want to see you there.
"That's it. I'm not going to pressure you or ask you to come to church with us, but I just wanted you to know that."
As I finished speaking he looked at me for what seemed a long tome. He placed his hands flat on the table, said, "OK", and got up from the table, walking away. It was obvious our discussion was over.
As the sun sank below the horizon, behind the trees on the edge of Dad's farm, I knew my opportunity was past, but not wasted.
I had gotten my one more day...
and I was at peace.