I woke up the night before last with a backache. As I shuffled in the dim light toward my office where I keep the Aleve, I passed the hallway mirror and saw another man.
I didn’t see a ghost. Ghosts are bullshit. I saw my father—alive.
Looking back again, all I found was my hairy face.
When I was young I resembled my mother. Brown haired, blue eyed, bangs. Growing older and filling out, I began to look more like my father. I have his haircut now as well as his British eyebrows and pork chop gut.
My father rarely wore a beard. A few months in the winter every three or four years. Beards were for the suspect. Intellectuals, union organizers, New Yorkers and commie symps. Unless you worked outside, a beard made you the likes of Abbie Hoffman.
I only have one good picture of Pops in a beard. Maybe that’s why I saw the connection in the mirror so quickly and felt it so deeply.
Like many people, I believe no one truly dies so long as the living dare to remember and love them still.
There are some moments when the lost are recalled so vividly, it’s almost as if you could record their breath on the surface of glass. Then an instant later, you realize it’s simply a trick of light or that you’re so weary you forgot to guard yourself from the hurt of wishing for one of the few things truly worth wishing for, and flash! It’s like losing them again for the very first time.