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The Father's Day That Will Never Be

Originally posted on 15 June 2014, dedicated on 01 March 2015 to Todd Michael Kepus.

Happy Father’s Day. I would like to say this is story about forgiveness. I hope in my heart it is.

There’s a very famous song by Janis Joplin, “Me and Bobby McGee”, lyric written by Kris Kristofferson, that rings like a bell for me today: “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.”

I had not seen my father since April 1988. We had never seen eye to eye on many things, and that is definitely a story for another time. He forced me out of the family in 1990, and I had no contact with any of them until November 2011. My sister Rachel had found me online and called me.

She told me how well she, my nieces, my brother and his family and my mother were doing. When I asked about Dad, she had told me he had died in October 2002, about three weeks after his 60th birthday.

I made a trip to see the family before Christmas 2011. On my last night there, my mother gave me the box that contained his ashes, along with a picture of him and her, taken before he became incredibly ill. He died in my mother’s arms in a tiny apartment in downtown Fresno, a slow, long, ugly and painful death. He was wearing a gold jacket, which my mother has since given to me.

Photo: “Having a drink with Dad, listening to Janis.” by Ben Brown Jr., Dec. 2011.
Click on image to enlarge. Image grain intentional as photo was taken in near darkness.

When I spoke to my sister, there was a fleeting moment when I thought he and I might actually sit down and have a drink, listen to Janis Joplin and just talk like men. My wish was granted, but staring at that box with the silver crucifix on it was in no way ever gonna replace the conversation we should have had.

Ben Brown Sr., you and mom used to tell me I would be a success in spite of the two of you. It is because of the two of you I am still here today. I just wish you were here for me to tell you that personally. And yes, I am listening to Pearl as I write this.

Love to you all.

Ben Bear

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