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 elfwood.com, 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.