My father’s legacy to me.

In closing this chapter of my life I look back on a single profound encounter with my dad that I’ve come to cherish and hold dear. It is a legacy from dad that went deep into my heart when it happened, and is dear to me today as it was then. Like many families, ours was not big on the emotion thing. When I would say (all to seldom) to dad “I love you”, he would typically respond “yea, me too”. The same with hugs, they were rare.

But dad was a real man, and I believe a man of emotion, emotion that seeped from him continuously rather than bursting forth on occasion.

In the encounter of which I speak, dad and I were in the same room … sort of. You see it was at dad’s funeral and he was in his casket and I was sitting with mom about half way down in the funeral parlor. People were coming and going, paying their last respects to my dad, and offering kind words of comfort to mom. But one man I noticed spent a long time with my dad, more it seemed than others had. As he walked back and past mom and me, I noticed he was all tear’d up so I asked mom “who is that man?” She responded “oh that is old Mr. Otonicar.”

As I sat there and reflected on that name, a certain shame came over me, and at the same time a certain pride welled up in me for my father. You see the Otonicar’s were dirty smelly pig farmers who lived at the edge of town, and to some of us kids in Butte they were the untouchables.

But I could see in that man’s face that day, and I could see in his tearful eyes that there was a connection between those two men, a connection unknown to me, but perhaps deep between these two men. Growing up I don’t recall dad knowing him, but somewhere along the way they did connect as men and in that connection I saw the true character of my dad.

Don Johnson – 2012


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