Eight months ago, my dad passed away. He still has a Facebook page where people post messages and request correspondence through FarmVille. I don’t think he’ll be getting back to anyone, but the Villas, Hearts, and Best Friend Quizzes keep coming.

The official cause of death is cardiac arrest, but I know my dad died from loneliness. The cigarettes that poisoned his system and killed his heart were the best medication he found to mute the chronic suffering he endured as he staggered along in a life of a failed family, empty days, and a retirement into poverty. He always found a way to keep a nice car, though. A regret he shared with me shortly before he died was when he denied my request to drive his car on the night of my senior prom. No big deal twenty years on, but it bothered him enough to express his regret at the last meal we shared, a cheap lunch at a restaurant in my hometown, his hometown, where he died. They don’t take credit cards there.

Our last hour together went along as most of the visits had for the last couple of years. Recent news, stories, jokes, my plans for whatever was next. This particular mealtime conversation was dominated by talk of my summer travels and the big overseas move that was going to happen in a few days. We didn’t run out of things to talk about, but dad was tired and it was approaching afternoon nap time. We stepped out of the dive and shared our goodbyes. The last thing my father said to me was, “Boy or girl, I’m not picky.” I didn’t catch it at first. I ran the words through my head but already asked, “What?” “You can have a boy or a girl, I’m not going to be picky.” “Sure dad, we’ll get right on that.” Chuckles and smiles.

Well, Emily is 18 weeks pregnant and we just found out that it’s a boy. My dad would be especially proud.

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