Had he lived, my father, Richard Moran, would be 100 years old today. Of course, that would have been about twenty-one years too many. With emphysema, all of his energy went into breathing, so much so that his body wasted away, his clothes hanging off of him, suspenders kept his pants up. After moving from his lift chair to wheel chair, he’d need a rest break to get his breath again before getting into his bed. On one of those evenings, after the rest breaks had gotten longer and longer, I told him that the doctor said he could have home hospice from then on and that he’d have maybe six months to live. It had taken all I had to say those words. I could barely breathe waiting for his response. He snorted, “Damn, that’s about six months too long, if you ask me.”
He was a mystery to me. There was this black hole of information about his family and his past. My grandparents had all died by the time I was one and neither of my parents talked about them, so any stories I would have heard from them were lost to me. I asked Mom about Dad’s family.
“Oh,” she said, hesitating, “I don’t think he even remembers his dad.”
I noticed the hesitation.
“And his mom died when he was away in the service,” she finished.
Something in the hesitation made me not ask again.
Gail Wawrzyniak is a North Carolina writer bringing together her love of art, history and writing.