Chapter XVII

because you never know someone from the very beginning


October 2008


Well…my friend was wrong.  My dad died last week, October 25th, at 12:05AM.  For the last week, I have had about a million thoughts going through my head.  This experience, losing a parent, is extraordinary and worth significant reflection.  It may be something I write about.  I am not sure yet.  I am a person who likes to write, and I have missed it this week.  But this is a post I don't really know how to start. 

So rather than start, I thought I would jot down a few notes about a few things I have on my mind. 

  • Atheism

  • Does God exist

  • What happens when we die

  • Why did he type a list of shampoos?

  • I am glad he voted

  • I am sad he did not see the outcome.

  • I never thought he would see me or my sister get married.  He married both of us.

  • I never thought he would meet my child.  Damn it, he met her and baptized her.

  • I was out of "I never…" thoughts when it came to my dad.  He did them all.  I wonder if he was out of "Maybe I will never…" thoughts as well.

  • How will my mom deal with this?

  • Maybe she will have new worlds opened to her.

  • Did he hear me when I was on the phone with him in the last moments?  When my mother held the phone to his ear while I had my last chance to speak to him.  We don't know if he heard.

  • If you believe in heaven, dad is now chatting with Rachmaninoff, Toscanini, FDR, others. 

  • I don't know if I believe in heaven.  I really want to more than ever now.

  • The colors of this autumn have never seemed to vivid to me as they have this week.  Autumn was his favorite season, and mine too.

Also, he never really explained to me why he converted from Catholicism to Episcopalian.  And he did the biggest conversion of all – becoming an Episcopal priest.  I asked.  He always said "Oh, I will tell you that when we have a lot more time."


[Imagine a big sigh and a long silence here.]

So that barely scratches the surface.  I had my first moment tonight when I thought "Oh I will call my dad." and realized I can't. 

People say I look like him.  I wish I saw that.  I do know that he and I could almost always predict the others' thoughts.  But when I ask myself, "What would he be saying now?  What would he tell me to do?" I am coming up a little empty.  He would probably say the usual "keep on living" things but there would be something else.  Something uniquely Tom Dixon.  And damn it, I don't know what that would be.  I need that, and I can't get it.  

I suppose that was one thing that made him great – that he was not so predictable and that he would have that something special to say in a time like this.  So perhaps I can hold onto that – whatever THAT would have been.

Perhaps, live to see the day…

My dad is not well

He has not been well for a long time

We are reaching a critical juncture on this journey with him.

Lots more on that later.  Maybe. 

I was talking to a friend today who is deathly afraid McCain will win.  I said, "I am afraid of that as well."  We were both pretty bummed about that prospect, the economy, my dad, etc.

Then about an hour after our doom and gloom conversation, this same friend sent me a note.  It simply said: "Barack is going to win and your father will see it, just like he saw Avery!"

Well that just about made me cry.  And I think (hope) he is right.  My dad has already voted for Barack.  He has baptized my daughter.  I feel really lucky.  But I do know, he would like to live to see the day…

Refrain, Repeat

I woke up this morning singing "Edelweiss" and am feeling, therefore, a bit like Sister Maria.  This is odd, since I am nothing like a nun.  However, I always did like The Sounds of Music.

Not sure what any of that means (perhaps I need a vacation to Austria or Switzerland?), I cannot seem to get that damn song out of my head (a nun would not use the word "Damn").

Anyhooo – back to work.

Where the FFFF have I been?

aw, hell, I don't really know.  just busy.  work has been busy.  working with lots of companies to figure out how to navigate 2009.  family?  busy.  busy busy busy.  parents have this way, like children, of not staying the age you always remember them being.  they age.  time goes by.  I have been trying to spend time with family. then, of course, there is my immediate family, husband and child.  I almost missed seeing the first few crawls.  she says lots of MaMaMas and DaDaDas.  it's pretty sweet.  and husband – yes, husband.  it's important to always be "a couple" even with all of the hulabaloo of life.  don't coexist.  don't JUST be parents. be a couple.  that has also made us busy.  and then self.  not so much of that lately.  that's not true. there has been some.  for instance, i enjoy cooking.  tonight I made dinner and baby food.  chalk up two points in the Self category.

so that, is where the F I have been.  you?

Dear Avery, snippets of an evening at home…

That is, Home with a capital H…the home where my parents, your grandparents, live…

8:30PM, after dinner.  In the library, watching Peyton Place.  Mom and Dad on the couch. 

Dad: "I remember the first time I saw this, I was in Louisville Kentucky about to leave for Europe.  I had just finished basic training at Fort Knox."

"YOU did push ups."

"Yes.  Don't look so SHOCKED.  Where are my glasses…"

Yup, my classical-music loving, never exercising father did basic training at none other than, FORT KNOX.  In typical, Tom Dixon fashion, he got himself a swanky Army desk job in Paris (not bad for a book wormy, food loving, romantic French major from Ohio).  Yes, Paris, a place your father and I will take you one day, and then you will go again and learn it for yourself, on your own terms. 

Mom is knitting.  "What are you knitting?' "An afghan for friends for Christmas."  Yes, your grandmother knows how to knit, sew, stitch…CREATE.

"What the hell was her name…the actress…she had a very short movie career…"

"We used to watch Peyton Place at the Kappa House in the 60s."  (Yep, your grandmother was an AVID Kappa Kappa Gamma, and your great grandmother. I was not.  Maybe you will be.)

"OH one of my favorite old tunes!  You'll never know!" 

Avery, and so the conversation goes.  Your grandparents trade memories of actors and actresses, with a wild ability to recall facts, figures and stories about these people they feel the grew up with.

You, sweet pea, are at home with your dad.  I am here helping out with a few things…and, well, spending time.  These notes are nothing fancy, but they portray a pretty typical scene here at Home, that I will miss one day, and that I wish you could see.

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