Birthdays

26 Jan

My father died a few years ago. He was in his mid eighties. That appears to be as old as we are likely to get, in my family lines.

My mother is…78. That seems an astonishing weight. I remember turning fifty, and feeling the weight of that milestone. “Fifty is prime territory!” she wrote me.

When my father’s father died, he had my grandfather cryogenically frozen. It cost a lot of money. My vague recollection is that he gave up on this project when it became clear that his mother, my grandmother, was not interested in accompanying her husband in this venture. I remember him saying that his Dad wouldn’t want to wake up in that brave new world, if my Grandma wasn’t there to greet him.

So Granddad got defrosted, I don’t know what Dad did with the remains. I don’t even know if I’m remembering this right, who remembers things right anymore? But I know I didn’t just make this all up.

My father, at some point in his life, apparently actually thought immortality was potentially a thing. Some of my earliest memories of him are of sitting in his library, I must have been around seven, and of him feeding me science fiction, Sherlock Holmes, and John D. MacDonald. All action and mystery and intrigue and science.

The last time I saw him was in 2001. He was faded. His oldest son, one of my four half-brothers, told me our father was a cipher. He thought he designed surveillance devices for the CIA. He wished he’d asked him more questions, sooner.

I remember my father’s research lab, with the rats. He gave me a pet rat. That was my first pet rat. I later went on to breed pet rats and became, for some of my childhood years, a veritable proselytizer for pet rats. So much nicer than hamsters, and so smart!

When I would visit my father in Pennsylvania, when I was seven or ten or twelve, we’d go out and run down the railroad tracks with the Malemutes. My father would run ahead and then run back, getting more distance in because I was small. Other times we would snorkel in the lake he paid to have built, or we would fish from a canoe.

When they all left, moved to the other hemisphere; he shot the dogs.

Yesterday I mailed my mother boxes of pecans, a slightly late birthday present. She wrote me back about how she has been getting pretty late doing things lately.

This morning there are supposed to be five planets aligned in the sky, just before dawn. That is soon. Maybe I’ll go look at this.

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