384 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 78 PART 3 MAY 2020
of faith disturbing.” He was being funny, not mean. He gave up on the God
thing with me a long time ago.
“That’s Darth Vader. I sat through as much Star Wars as you did with
Oliver,” I said.
He laughed, and then looked at me seriously. “I don’t know how long I
will be here. I want you to know …” He was struggling.
I felt his urgency, but he’s not the only one who isn’t big on emotional conversations.
Maybe I should have tried harder, while he was alive, to break our
pattern of either joking or arguing. When a parent dies, do you automatically
become more grown up? My decision to go to law school was the mature one,
I knew that. Still, at that moment I couldn’t break our habit—I didn’t want to
be serious. Or maybe curiosity just got the better of me.
I interrupted him. “Have you met Shakespeare?”
“You make it sound like death is some grand historical cocktail party.” He
seemed relieved to have an excuse to lighten the mood. He bowed slightly
towards me. “I’m just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe.”
“That last one sounds like Star Wars too.”
“Good guess. Jango Fett.”
“A cocktail party would be your heaven.”
Dad was the extrovert’s extrovert. Unlike me. I prefer books to people,
and memorized lines to spontaneous interaction. I’ll be lucky if a dozen
people attend whatever celebration takes place at the end of my life. “You
should have seen the crowd at the cathedral. Every judge and lawyer in
Vancouver paid their respects, mixed with dozens of your clients.”
“An intoxicating combination indeed. What do they call that drink where
you mix a bit of everything?”
“Swamp water, or shit mix, I think.”
I turned away to look out the glass doors. Uncomfortable conversations
are easier without eye contact.
I ventured back to the topic of law school and joining the family practice.
“After articling, maybe I could do research, or write legal arguments? I’m not
cut out for court, but I could still contribute. What do you think?” I rushed
the words, sought his approval. I needed to resolve our most serious conflict.
When I looked back, he was gone. I reached out to where he had stood,
but felt no warmth. Just air.
“Dad?” My voice broke. My sinuses stung. “Dad!” I tried to say it louder,
but it came out quieter. I’d wasted time bantering. I am such a child. What
had he wanted to tell me when I interrupted with my stupid questions?
I sank into my chair and lay my head on the table. Thou leavest me to
grieve. Thus having been, that thou shouldst cease to be. Not Shakespeare. But
that’s what played in my head as tears soaked my bare forearms.