Dad’s 79th Birthday (Observed)

The Photographer, July, 2009

It’s snowy here in Lincoln today, Dad. Remember that year, when we lived on the farm, that you bought a pair of snowmobiles and then it didn’t snow for shit for two more years? Nebraska. Shit happens that even though you know that there’s a damn good chance that it will, it still surprises you.

I bet that drove an engineer like you nuts. Copacetic. Just pay attention, do the math, do the work, measure, tighten, maintain and all will be copacetic. That’s what you taught me. And, for the most part, that’s what you showed me.

But we’re lousy at taking our own advice, let alone other people’s, huh? So, we wind up in situations less than copacetic and then we hope that doing the math and the work will keep our asses from falling entirely into the fire. Best case.

So, here I am, on your birthday, the fourth one you’ve missed now, looking at my early fifties and looking a lot like you at that age; too damn fat, too much time on my ass, too much to drink and turning my back on the math and the work, neglecting to measure, tighten and maintain. An even strain has not been maintained, Dad. Things aren’t copacetic.

I’m your son, dad. Goddammit. I’m proud and I’m fucked. And I hope you won’t mind if I say that I’m scared half to death I’ll wind up like you; the last twenty years of my life in pain and barely able to get through a day.

So, listen. I’m going to find that slide rule of yours and start doing the math again. I’m not going to make your mistakes and turn my back on copacetic. Because I shouldn’t be surprised at shit that I know there’s a damn good chance of happening, happening.

An even strain will be maintained. And if Gordo Cooper could sit in a Mercury Capsule for 22 hours straight, I can get off my ass for at least half of that.

No need to pull over. All will be copacetic.

Love ya, your son,


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