What important life lesson did you learn from your father?
Everybody else drives too goddam fast.
It was great seeing you last year, though we didn't get to take you out one last time as we'd hoped. Everyone loved your stories and songs, and the time we shared. Livvy still can't hear that Bobby Darin song without tearing up. She turned 20 a couple days ago. We went to a wildlife refuge and she read all the tree descriptions in a hilarious Cockney accent, with color commentary. You'd have teared up laughing.
We wish we'd spent more time with you over the past few years, but we live so far away now; it was so hard to get back home. Now that you're gone there seems little reason to, I guess.
My brothers remember you with a less objective eye; they want to remember the fishing-and-basketball dad, not the one Mom had to drive home from the tavern all those nights. They remember her anger and sadness more than your drunkenness, but if truthful, they also remember that you weren't there a lot of the time when we needed you, and that neither of you prepared us very well for adulthood, too mired in your own concerns.
But they're not parents, as I am. I don't weigh the good stuff and the bad stuff; it was so long ago, and my life is my own to live. Being a parent is rewarding, but it's also incredibly hard.
So, as I now turn the corner fully into middle age, I just want to thank you again for jazz and big band, for shushing me during the good horn parts, for showing me the pleasure of mixing paint, the difference between cherry and maple, walks with dogs (you'd love our new Shepherd Lab Archie, so much like our Shepherd Collie Monty Python back in Greenwood,) potato soup, antique school books, and taking life slowly, because most of the time there just isn't any good reason to be in a rush.
Part of our last conversation is here, audio is only passable, but it's all I've got.