Monday, July 03, 2006

A Writer's Tortured Soul

April third, 2006

The news yesterday of my father’s death obviously blew the day’s creative productivity right off the itinerary. I am so thankful for the sixteen years He allowed Dad and I to have together.

My Mom and Dad divorced when I was about five, and she kept him out of my whole childhood. It wasn’t until 1989 when I was living in the Chicago burbs that my sister located Dad here in Lafayette, Indiana, and set up our first meeting in nearly two decades.

Over the next five years we visited regularly and developed a wonderful relationship. In May of1994 I moved to Lafayette and stayed at his house until I got established. Back then I was working on my fantasy work, White Iron. Dad had focused his lifelong creative efforts into entrepreneurism, and had started several companies, but never enjoyed any degree of success. My bouncing ideas off the old guy nourished a drive that he never knew he had, and in the late nineties, he funneled his creative energy into his first fantasy novel.

Like the work of any new fiction writer, itwas bad, but he had a natural gift for plot-development and in six or seven years really learned how to turn a phrase. I’d been driven to write my whole life, so my father’s new interest opened a commonality that gave a new depth to our relationship. A few yeas ago dad discovered, the web’s largest fantasy and science fiction site. He made many friends there and after a year, founded Fantasy Writers International, a writer’s club for aspiring novelists. In January of 2005 he solicited FWI’s members for contributions to an anthology of high fantasy.

The anthology’s completion was delayed by a family crisis involving his sister in California. He and my grandmother flew to California to support my aunt. The trip dragged out longer than anticipated, and the decision was made that Dad would fly back toIllinois and drive my grandmother’s car to San Deigo.

On the evening ofApril first, somewhere around Fort Worth, Tx, the car left the road and rolled. He was ejected from the vehicle and found some fifteen feet away by paramedics. Dad was immediately alert and responsive, but once in the ICU the only movement of which he was capable below the waist was the movement of his big toes. Then he went unconscious.

My brother informed me that dad coded four times in the early AM hours of April second and never regained consciousness.

At about 7:30 PM my brother again phoned, this time with the news that Dad had been declared brain-dead.

C.S. Lewis wrote A Grief Observed after Joy, his wife of three years, was taken by cancer. After weeks of his soul’s torment Lewis turned a corner. At this point he wondered why he couldn’t see that there was nothing to do with suffering but suffer it. In 1996 these words comforted me when my mother died of complications brought about byMultiple Sclerosis. Lewis’ same words sustain me now.

Dad was so happy in the last years of his life, and although he was not able to hold the finished book in his hands, assembling this anthology for his fantasy fiction club was his dream come true. My wife, Cynthia, is the anthology’s editor and told me last night that she’s decided to see this project’s completion. Dad’s dream will be posthumously realized. It has, over the last twenty-four hours, slowly occurred to me that this book will stand, in my mind, as a memorial.

Regardless of any future success that I may enjoy as a novelist, this secular fantasy anthology will undoubtedly stand as my life’s most meaningful published work. It will be a physical symbol to the years with my father with which He blessed us.

Thank you Father for the time with my father.


Anonymous said...

(From Chris D/FCW)

I checked out your blog from your website. I’m so sorry about your father. How wonderful that you will be able to complete his work.

I’m so glad to have met you but am also so sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

We will all miss Larry deeply, and your story of how you were reunited makes my heart warm. Cherish the time you had with him, but what am I saying, I know you do, and I know you always will, just as we will all cherish knowing and enjoying Larry’s talent and wit.
His dream will live on…

Thanks for sharing him with us.


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute to your father. You, and your family, have my deepest sympathy. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

God bless you, brother


Anonymous said...

Well, my comment disappeared, so I guess I have to start over again. I’m so glad you shared this blog, Scott. It is a beautiful tribute to your Dad. He was such a special man, with such a huge, generous heart. He told me he was a big, cuddly teddy bear, and he was SO RIGHT! I loved him, even though it had only been 4 short months, I did truly love him. He gave me life again, opened up the doors and windows, and breathed hope into my heart — hope that life was still good and worth living for. Not simply existing, but really LIVING.

I’m reminded of a Madeleine L’Engle book called “The Other Side of the Sun”. She states: “Only on love’s terrible other side is found the place where the lamb and lion abide. The other side of the sun - you have to go through it, not around it.” We can go mad poking around, trying to see and change the courses of our lives. Best to let God reveal it in His own ways and in His own time. Only He knows just how much truth we can take at one sitting. So for the moment, I will content myself to know that God and Larry are laughing, talking, maybe even sharing a good pipe of tobacco, and someday, we’ll join them.


Anonymous said...

We’re on the same wavelength. I came online today to write about it as well. I’ve had writer’s block or, more correctly labeled, a lack of an urge to write, for months. I think I’m over it now.

I like what you wrote and hope it helped exorcise your emotions.

So glad Cynthia’s planning to continue with the compilation’s publishing.

Take care and see you soon.


Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your loss. How wonderful that you had that special bond with your father in his later years. I am sure it meant the world to him, just as it seemed to have meant to you.

Hold onto the memories, the good ones are all we have of our loved ones and they, along with God, shall sustain us through these dark times…I recently lost my mother, so I empathize with your loss.

Dabbling Mum

Anonymous said...

What a lovely eulogy! I sincerely hope people are able to read your fathers work, and share in what he created over the years. I will look for it myself wherever books are sold.

Matt Williams

Lucy said...

I am not quite sure how I stumbled across your blog except for that God led this way because I have been in despair for some time now. your words are beautiful and comforting and I felt comfort while reading them after suffering many losses in my life. Thank you for sharing your feelings and I am sorry for your losses.I will look for you on Facebook.