Sunday, December 4, 2011

Frank Hlebakos
March 4, 1920- December 1, 2011

Sitting in Starbucks, this sunny morning in Monterey.

My tea is finished, but I am not leaving just yet.

I have internet access here

and I am logged onto the online family album

looking at the photo of my dad taken around 1942.

He looks so confident and handsome in his sailor suit,

his whole life ahead of him, destined for great things.

This was just before he was shipped off to the Aleutian Islands

where he served as an airplane mechanic during the war.

He also had a still which he and his buddy, Dan the Mexican, tended.

From what I understand, they generously shared their moonshine up there in that cold, barren place,

which made them quite popular with the other sailors.

As tough and scary as it was, I think it was one of the best times of his life.

Dad died yesterday at the age of 91.

The last ten years or so, he was someone I didn’t really know.

Regret and resentment took their toll.

Anger and hatred popped up in unexpected places

and there was so little joy or happiness.

I never could completely understand it,

and came to accept that it only made sense

in the dark closet of his memories.

Interesting that he seems to be here with me now

just hanging out in this coffee shop--

the dad that I loved and admired when I was growing up,

the one for whom anything was possible.

And now, finally, that may very well be true.

No longer imprisoned by what might have been,

he is free to live in the eternal now,

content and at peace with what is.