Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Tag: My Father

Photo Credit: SRWright

Clifford Lee Ayers – The loss of a great man.

On 24 November, 2019, we lost Clifford Lee Ayers. He went to meet his maker, joined the Choir Invisible, or Shuffled off this mortal coil, as many of us Pythonites might say. I say all that in humor, because I fully believe that he would be laughing with me about it.

Cliff, or Pop as I always called him, was not anyone special or fantastic in a global sense. He did not win any major awards, there will never be a statue or plaque erected in his honor. His passing was quiet, peaceful, without event.

But let me tell you about my experience with the man…

In the late 1980s, when I started dating the woman that would become my wife, I remember the first time I met Pop. He was not easy on me. He was kind, but he was critical of me, as any good father should be. He took apart my dreams and thoughts for the future and was quick to make me second guess everything, many times making me feel foolish for some of the dreams I had.

Sometimes he would have me help him around the yard or, a fond memory now, but not so much back then, he would drive me out to the almond orchards with him and have me help cut down dead trees to take home for use as firewood. Only catch was that while he would use a chainsaw, he would have me use a manual saw.

As the years went on, and he saw that in spite of his tests and trials I was in for the long haul, he started going easier on me. We started doing things together and, through the years, I grew closer to him that I had ever been with my own father.

Clifford, Pop, became an important part of my life, someone I could talk to when I needed to have a ‘Guy Talk’ with someone and eventually he even started talking to me as someone he could confide in.

I learned a lot from Pop, he was an inspirational part of my life, I loved him as much as, possibly more than, I loved my own, biological, father.

He will be sorely missed and I can say with honesty that my life is better for his presence in it.

Godspeed Dad… I love you and miss you.

The voice of my father…

In the wake of learning that I am now a father, there has been a lot going through my mind these days. While many of these thoughts are the usual “New Father” things, there are many that are either introspective or retrospective. I have started thinking about MY childhood and how I was raised and the people that influenced my life the most.

It was during this process that I made a startling and sad discovery. I can no longer remember what my father’s voice sounds like.

It is not like we talked all the time. We, more or less, would have about one phone call a month and there were the occasional visits. We were not close, by any stretch of the imagination. There always seemed to be this wall of misunderstanding and inability to identify with one one another between us. So our conversations were relatively generic.

But there was always something calming about his voice. Even thought I never spoke to him about my problems or issues in life, there was something about the way he spoke to me that made things feel better.

When I think back to those conversations that we had, both the ones that really meant something and the ones that seemed pointless, I no longer hear his voice. In my mind’s process of playing back those conversations, I hear only my voice for both parts. I see his face, the face of when he was younger and healthy, not that of the man lying in the hospital, dying of cancer. I can remember the smell of his Aqua Velva aftershave and even the smell of cigarettes on his breath that were all just parts of who he was, but when I see him speak, it is in my voice. A process of the mind to fill in gaps with something you know.

It feels as though I have lost something. A crucial memory or artifact of my life, a key to my past and who I am. Unfortunately there are no ways to get this lost memory back. I have no recordings of my father speaking, there was no video tapes of him since that technology just was not available when he was still alive.

I spoke to someone else about this, and they told me that maybe it was my mind’s way of preparing me to be a father. Letting me know that it was time to say farewell to the overwhelming memories of loss of my father and begin the road of fatherhood myself.

If that is true, and if there is an afterlife, then I hope that somewhere my father is still watching me and is proud of what I have become and how I will help raise this child with my wife.

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