Our Fathers


My mother called to say Rebecca’s father passed away. When we were in high school, I saw Rebecca’s father come and go. Rebecca’s mother divorced her father when Rebecca was a baby.


When we were teens, Rebecca’s father would order us to get him things when he was over at Rebecca’s. He’d tell us to get him beer, and open it, put it right there on the table. He had a deep and smoky voice. I would sit in Rebecca’s living room, staring at her father. Rebecca would talk to her father about things like the suntan she was getting, and she would readjust her strap to show her tan line.

Sometimes, when I stayed overnight in Rebecca’s double bed, I would get up and get a drink of water. Her father would be sleeping on the sofa. Sometimes I liked to watch him.


When Rebecca met my father, he still lived on the farm where I grew up, and we stayed there for a weekend. He was outside most of the duration, in the fields, plowing them and planting.

Rebecca and I lay in the backyard, trying to get sunburned. My parents built that house when I was eleven. After they built the house, my mother got a job and then my father had a breakdown, and the next year, my mother left my father.

My father passed us in the yard. We wore bikinis. He stopped and looked at us and smiled. We looked up, shading our eyes with all our fingers. He smiled again. Rebecca smiled back. She told me he was cool and that she liked him.


Rebecca married a guy she dated back in high school. I remember the picture of her in her wedding dress, smiling with her father, his arm around her. There was one with him hugging her, his white moustache pressed against her bridal collar. I got married at a courthouse. My marriage lasted for a year.


When we were in church, my father yelled in the middle of the sermon, “God help me, help me, help me. Our Father Who Art in Heaven, God help me, help me, help me.”


I went to see my father at the institution. I had to get directions. I stopped at a gas station and bought a map.

The nurse handed me to someone, who took me to his room.

“Who are you,” he said.

“I’m your daughter, Dad.” I looked at the checkers game he had been playing. I asked him if he wanted to play checkers.

He smiled then. He sat in a chair. He had held me once when I was younger. I’d seen it in a picture.


For Independence Day, I’d gone to Rebecca’s father’s cabin for the weekend. We all sat in the sun, and later we went rafting. Rebecca played in the sand with her two children, and her father sat with me. We reclined, laying on our lawn chairs. We talked about the ocean. He was retired. He smiled at me. I let him.