A visit to my dead dad
THURSDAY, April 8 – Spent an hour in Oisterwijk, the town where I’d grown up. I had a business meeting in a nearby city and took advantage of the opportunity to stroll through the cemetery. The death of my father was my first confrontation with mortality. Would it do something to me, seeing his grave? Would it evoke forgotten emotions? Provide new perspectives?
Nothing. Nothing at all.
It must be years since I was here last. He shares a grave with his first wife, who was in her thirties when she was struck down by cancer. Pa had been left with three young sons. What a morbid resemblance between our lives, but am I actually conscious of that bond? Not really. I never discussed that time with him, since he died far too young. And now he’s lying here.
I had no trouble finding the grave. Turn left at the end of the path. A simple gravestone with simple lettering. No frills. Not because he was a modest man – he was sick and, in my childhood memory (which is unbeknownst to mental illnesses), he was crazy – but because the grave had to be cheap. You can barely make out his name and the dates of his birth and death are illegible. I felt no urge to tidy up the grave.