This past Father's Day was the first time in living memory that I have not spoken to TB The Elder.
To be somewhat fair, I suppose that I could have called: the home where he is has a phone, and I can certainly call at any time. But he is hard to understand now at the best of times; I fear calling him without having the reference of a face and body in place would create more confusion than any benefit the conversation would bring (also to be fair, we will see him in two weeks, so that will probably be better anyway).
It is a odd thing, this almost limbo that we find ourselves in with the condition of our parents: they are still with us so we do not mourn them in the way that we would mourn the dead, yet I cannot speak to them in the way that one typically speaks to living. It is a twilight, where we seem and speak to each other darkly, through a sort of evening fall that has the highlights of stars and a crescent moon, but not of specific details of the landscape.
It has been a continuation of the last seven months, more or least: the phone calls that became less and less of conversations and more and more of my updates, then the loss of calling my parents every week (Tuesday nights for the last 6 years at least), and now finally the point where there are no calls at all. A logical extension, but logic often has a cold, hard edge to it that the reality of human experience cannot bear.
I am fortunate: I have a father to whom Happy Father's Day could be a sincere wish, not something that just a phrase mouthed. I have written of him and his examples over the years here; to effectively the very end of his independent life he did his best to hold up his responsibilities to everyone, especially my mother in the throes of Alzheimer's disease. To the extent that I have demonstrated any good fatherhood skills or examples, I owe them to him.
I would like to believe, I suppose, that somehow my father still knows this somewhere in the back of his mind, even if he cannot communicate it effectively or respond in a way that would make sense. And perhaps he still does: when we see him, he still recognizes us and responds with some level of joy, even if the actual items he is trying to relate never make sense the way he intends.
Were I a wiser man, I might have somehow figured out a way to plan for this sort of thing more appropriately. Sadly, I fall into the trap that is the birthright of all humanity: we never truly think the future will come, until it does.