Story last updated at 8/27/2014 - 7:55 pm
There are some rocky edges in life that can't be completely smoothed by the waves of time.
I was told I'd never fully get over losing my dad. I can't remember who told me, but it was true. Movie channels were doing Robin Williams marathons the day my dad would have turned 64, so I wrestled with death all day.
I wondered what makes people depressed. I wondered why I was sad after dad died, but not depressed in a self-destructive, self-medicating or otherwise detrimental way. I don't know how these things work. As humans, we don't get answers to all the questions we ask - questions about faith, reason, purpose and why in general. Open-ended questions with only reasonable theories for answers are a part of being human.
But there is misery in questions and the unfinished business of a life. Had cancer not weaseled its way into our lives, my dad and I would have made up for lost time while I was in college and as I was starting my career in California. We had plans. Hunts. Fish. The outdoor opportunities that prompted he and mom to move the family from Colorado to Alaska was about to be re-explored.
I think about those plans sometimes, so that's why on his birthday I do something fun, something we could have done together. Last year on dad's birthday I went on a solo fishing trip to the Upper Sacramento River. I camped and caught a bunch of rainbow trout on my favorite stonefly pattern. It happened to fall about when I was considering a move from California back to Klawock to be Alaskan again.
This year I drove up an old logging road on a solo hunt. I didn't go to the woods for therapy or to be alone. I just went because I enjoy it. On a day which can be heavy, I just like to remember.
I'm not the type to write about how my dad's expectations were emotionally damaging or smothered my individuality. That type of column seems to be growing in popularity - dads doing damage by using words like "manly". My dad never said "be a man," but he made me do it anyway and I'm glad.
I understand what he wanted me to be though teenage boys rarely like to be held accountable. He wanted me to have the courage to do the best I could, not fake effort and play the victim. I get it now.
I don't think about him to remind myself of what I lost, I remember what I had and still have because some things don't end when a body fails. But to look at what you have rather than what you don't isn't always easy. I have to remind myself of that. I think it's important to remember what support looks and feels like and not to put it in the past tense.
Everyone has a father - whether he is biological, through marriage, or, if there isn't one at home, pieced together by a few influential men whether it be a teacher, coach or mentor.
At some point these people leave our lives change literally or figuratively. We won't understand the circumstances most of the time. Sometimes we'll get it, but don't want it.
When it comes to dad I stopped questioning why everything transpired as it did a long time ago so when I reach the alpine or stand in a river, I'm not looking for a voice or a reason. They are beautiful places to continue living a good life, just as dad would want.
A small correction: In last week's column, I mentioned the Inter Island Ferry Authority would be running out of Coffman Cove soon. It's actually the North End Ferry Authority.