I was thirty when my father, Jerry, died in McKinleyville, California.
The last time I saw him, I held his shrunken body upright from behind while he urinated,
my arms wrapped around his chest. It was like hugging a bag of
wheezing, cancer-ridden feathers.
It was the first time Jerry didn’t smell like cigarettes.
He pissed in the toilet and yelled,
“How did I sire such a bull?”
After Jerry died, I was obligated to clean out his white Ford Econoline van
which he had lovingly christened The Enterprise II.
I found hand tools, a stolen ashtray from the Bakersfield Denny’s,
and a water-damaged picture of me from first grade.
I found his last pack of unfiltered Camels, the plastic wrap unbroken.
I found a spiral-bound notebook where he kept meticulous records of the weather
and his van’s maintenance schedule. I confirmed that The Enterprise II
was overdue for spark plugs, points, and a distributor cap.
Folded into the journal, I found a page from another notebook.
On that page, Jerry had written, “Don’t die from this shit.”