Last week, I collected all my Dad’s belongings the place he was staying and from the recovery center where he died. All of his belongings fit into the back of a car. After I went through everything and donated a lot, what was left fit in a small box. These photographs represent what is left of his physical belongings. Where the automobiles, furniture, tools and everything else went is anyone’s guess.
The contents of his wallet leave more questions than answers. He had a my sister’s baseball card from her little league and my 9th grade school photo, some money, a key, a few different bus passes and a bunch of business cards for doctors.
My dad died practically homeless. He had a place to sleep at night, somewhere to keep his belongings, and somewhere that he could make meals, it was one of the back rooms of a business owned by a friend of his. He would get up early and be gone before the people that worked there showed up and wouldn’t return until after they had left in the evening. What he did all day and where he went is not known. He had a bus pass and a lot of doctor appointments which can consume a lot of time, but not all day every day.
Since my dad died, I have been consumed with grief and regret. I am losing him all over again and regret that I could do nothing about the last 20 years of his life. He must have been so alone.
I have been walking the long way between the train and work lately, getting off a couple stops early or walking a couple stops further, partially because it has been beautiful out and I love the city, but partially because I see all these men sitting on benches in Pioneer Square, Prefontaine Park and City Hall Park and obsess over their unknown stories. The prevalent thought is these men are sons, brothers, fathers, husbands, and could easily have been my dad. These forgotten men. We don’t know their stories.
I keep repeating in my head I don’t know his story. I don’t know what happened, what factors fell into place to result in them being alone and on the outskirts of society. I can’t judge them. I can’t know their lives.
It is basically me walking around and letting go of all the anger I have had for my father all my life. He wasn’t the father I thought he should be or the one that I needed or one at all for the last 30 years. I believe that he wanted to be, but for some reason, he couldn’t. Maybe he didn’t know how or maybe he thought that he didn’t deserve it.
I don’t know his story.