Eyes that knew they were dying.
MTM and I first came to Arizona in 2005 to say goodbye to his father, a man MTM hadn’t seen since 1989. A man he’d never really known. A man who left when MTM was just three years old, whose only real reliability was his flair for the unpredictable. That knack for fun helped MTM and me find our Happy Place, somewhere we both enjoy revisiting again and again.
Long before I met MTM, he had one of those scares with his father. His dad was dying. And, he was okay with it. Years of being marginal made it hard for him to care, until he felt guilty because he didn’t. Circular discussions with himself produced a sense of peace. It was acceptable to release his dad and everything that went with him.
Even when his dad pulled through his illness. He’d already said goodbye, years ago, when he was a tow-headed toddler who didn’t understand why his father didn’t want to be his dad.
Coming to Chandler, Arizona to say goodbye – in person – didn’t make sense. It wouldn’t matter, wouldn’t change the shape of anything that had come before. It wouldn’t make a man a father to an abandoned son.
And, it didn’t.
We sat in the backyard with MTM’s dad, sipping soda under citrus trees in the spring light. Those eyes still twinkled, a diminished glow, but it was still there. MTM had his dad’s nose and his love of mechanical objects, the stray gesture or shadow of a mannerism.
When we left, MTM got to shake his father’s hand, look him in those twinkling blue eyes, and tell him goodbye. With peace. Knowing the trip all those miles didn’t make him a father, and understanding that it didn’t matter.
In the end, a person cannot become something they never were.
Too Much is Just Enough: Release