Day Nine|Ten|Eleven: Reunion|Obligation|Veranda
They had joked that this would be the last – the very last! – time they did anything because he told them to. In fact, it wasn’t that, in this particular case, he had told them to – it’s just that a death in the family tends to dictate a roster of activities and behaviours – expectations and obligations. Like, having a funeral and inviting people to it and showing up and looking grief-stricken.
But they hadn’t done that exactly. None of their father’s friends were still alive, so they’d skipped the funeral service; their mother had already, many years before, been buried in a plot with her parents (and there was no space for him) so they had opted to have their father cremated; and they weren’t – were NOT – going to invite his mechanic to the wake, which they had decided to have to mark the occasion somehow (with a lot of vodka, as was their father’s way).
Later, they found each other, one by one, on the front veranda, and any cross words that had been exchanged over the course of the day were long forgotten. Such was the way with family reunions. They knew, because they loved each other, that they would always nitpick and needle, not to cause harm or distress, but to show each other that they noticed - that they took account of each other - and that all the small and delicate movements and moments they made as humans were noticed and accounted for.
Because he had not done that. He had not recognised in his children, their humanness. Could only have seen himself - perhaps - and had refused to acknowledge even that.