Yesterday marked the tenth anniversary of my father’s death (which I would have written about then, had work not intruded); he died very shortly before the birth of my daughter Goldie.
She’s ten now, and been asking quite a bit about heaven, especially about who ends up there and who ends up in the other place. We’re soft-pedaling that latter question, but asking her to rest assured that her father’s father is looking down and taking pretty good notice of her. I think he probably is. I confess that I miss my dad, and am sorry that I can’t hear what he thought of our current world situation — I’m sure he would have more than a few choice words about DJT — and especially what he thought about trying to raise two young girls in the midst of all that, and the country that DJT and his supporters are creating. I think I knew him pretty well, and know what he would have said about DJT and the people who would support and vote for such people. (“Idiot” was a favorite word.) Even after a rough life and a rougher marriage, his main concerns were for forgiveness, truth (he was, after all, a scientist), and love. He knew that the road of life and civilization itself tended more or less downhill. But he knew how to laugh about it, and probably would agree with Jonathan Swift that “I hate and detest that animal called man, although I heartily love John, Peter, Thomas, and so forth.” So many people today, it seems, have it the wrong way around.
I can think of no better way to memorialize him this year than with the below lovely and caustic song from John Prine’s latest (and terrific) album, The Tree of Forgiveness. A cocktail and a cigarette indeed. (You can keep your Leonard Cohen; I’ll take Prine any day.) I’ll be raising a glass to his memory tomorrow at Cafe Katja — a place that he would have loved too, with people who would have delighted him. Perhaps I’ll see you there.