There’s only one call I have ever made on Father’s Day. And this is the first time I won’t make that call. Even last year, when you began your steep decline, the aides at Juniper brought you to the phone. You didn’t say much but I screamed I LOVE YOU OLE DAD into the phone about 15 times. I’m pretty sure you got the message.
Cousin Nancy Bercaw was here this weekend with her daughter Reva. We swam in Lake Champlain as if it were the Rivanna River and we talked, at length, about our fathers. This her first father’s day without Woodson, who died last July, of another strange dementia-type malady that we now refer to as “Bercaw disease.” I think if you were alive, you’d laugh at that notion. Or maybe not.
Nancy brought me a collection of correspondence between you and your mother (which Woodson kept for me). The letters gave me greater insight into your emotional life, as well as your complicated mind. Sometimes I can’t figure out if I knew you well or not at all. Sometimes I think this of my own self. But that’s another Bercaw disease entirely.
I hope you have peace now. And that you and Woodson have patched up your differences. Maybe you’re sitting together on a swing overlooking Lake Champlain and delighting in your children’s friendship and love. Perhaps your mother, the first Nancy Bercaw, for whom you both named your daughters, is baking you a fresh pie.
I wish I could speak to you, but I believe the letters Nancy brought were your way of calling me today. I hear you shouting out that you love me, too, in every one of them as you speak to your mother about matters of love, life and death. Message received, loud and clear.
Ole Gal Buzzard Tail