The tide rises, the tide falls: telling stories of a father who is gone.

gary cooke surfing

There’s a story a man has told for most of his life. He has changed the story to suit himself as he’s grown older and wiser and gained life experience. He knows the story intimately, yet he doesn’t really know it at all. While he believes in his story, he is aware that it could change, but he has believed that he will be the one to control that change, and for most of his life this has been true. But now that idea is in question.

The story is about his father. The story is about his relationship to his father. The story is not supplemented with information from his mother because she is not here to give it to him or to help him interpret it. She died when he was seven years old, and of course she is part of the story too. He composes his story over the years with help from his memories and a scrapbook of fading photographs and the stories of his grandparents and his mother’s sisters and brothers. His father re-entered his life briefly many years ago via private investigator to tell some parts of the story again in his own words. He incorporated those phone conversations with his father into his story.

This man is my partner. He received a phone call last week with some new information for his story. The information was that his father had died. Strangely, he died here in Seattle, far away from where the story started, within miles of our home, unbeknownst to us. So now the story is changing rapidly, and he must find a way to understand it again, incorporating the information he is receiving in the wake of his father’s death.

I want to tell some stories about my partner and his father. But these will be MY stories. I will only write these stories because he trusts me and has given me permission to do so, and because he knows that writing stories is helpful for me, and maybe he believes it could be helpful for him too.

When one has not had a good father, one must create one.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

20 thoughts on “The tide rises, the tide falls: telling stories of a father who is gone.

  1. Powerful stuff Misslisted, and the places that our lives cross continues (Seattle, similar boys, similar life stories)… my mother had the very same story with her father. When we learned that he was living just miles from her—after years of wondering, years of pain— but had died, it was an enormous loss. I’ll be interested in seeing where this story goes. Condolences to your partner. It’s a painful loss, even when you think you’ve already gotten over the loss.

      • It is indeed. I have thought often of the missed opportunities my mother and her father had… the pain in her sense of abandonment, and the futility of finding he lived so close, and died without knowing she was looking. The circumstances sound slightly different, but incredibly similar in their sad outcomes. Strength, peace and compassion on this journey.

  2. I love the first paragraph above – the way it allows for the nuances of self and story. What an interesting narrative, form anyone ‘s point of view, and how strange it must be to feel the ache of a loss, a hole, where there wasn’t much substance to begin with. But that doesn’t diminish the loss. He’s lucky to have you to help see the way through.

  3. Looking forward to readin more, thanks! The father and I were surf buddies for years and roomates on the coast in Costa Rica c1972….

      • I wish I could write like you do so I could express to you how your writings have effected me. At the time Larry was roommates with Gary, I was roommates with his mother, Teresa. Your first story made me feel like I was spending time with her again and that is a very wonderful thing.

  4. A brilliant beginning to what will doubtless be an enlightening story.

    Nietzsche? Was he talking about Krishna as the father man created? “”God is dead,” Nietzsche. “Nietzsche is dead,” God”” is one of my favorite illustrations of the audacity of so-called philosophers to understand the AbsoluteTruth, our eternal existence as part and parcel of God.

    Heartfelt condolences to your partner, now off our find our real father, who is always anxiously awaiting us prodigals to rejoin Him, always watching the desires in our hearts. Encouraging any move in His direction.

  5. I read this post two days ago, but just couldn’t think of what to say here.

    >He knows the story intimately, yet he doesn’t really know it at all.
    – What could I say to a child who did not know his father?

    >When one has not had a good father, one must create one. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
    – This quote made me sad. I could not envision how I’d go about this because I … just don’t know how to.

    Thank you for inadvertently reminding me to cherish this blessing of mine (i.e. my parents) even more than I already do.

    I’ve just read your follow up, so to speak, to this post. Those pieces helped, um, loosen my tongue a little. I’m off to that next post of yours.


  6. Pingback: dénouement: the lonely sea « misslisted

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