It sounds strange to say this (even to myself), but I've already written about everything I know about my father.
Physically, I only spent one hour with him, excluding unremembered baby-time. Telephonically, he started calling me when I was in my early-30's and he was nearing the end of his life. So add on a couple of phone conversation hours I spent with him.
This morning, Father's Day 2016, I pulled out my "Father" file folder. It contains the sum total of what I jotted down at the time about my father after he briefly came into my life back in the 1980's.
The sheet doesn't have much information on it. And like I said, I can't make out some of the words. Much of what I wrote down doesn't pertain to my father. It's about his other children, my half brothers and sisters whom I didn't know about until my father told me some things about them.
I'm glad I have it. It isn't much, but it's hugely more than I had for the thirty-some years before he contacted me. Which was basically, nothing. Just one word, "John," that would be penned on the Christmas card he'd sometimes send to me when I was a kid.
I'd look at it and sort of wish that he'd written "Dad" or "Your father, John."
All my friends had fathers in their lives. Why not me? As I spoke about at the beginning of my Stories From the Dark Side talk in 2014, I'd complain to the God that I didn't really believe in: "God, what the hell? Why don't I have a father?"
But of course, I did.
All humans do. Each of us is a genetic blend of our mother and father. And each of them were genetic blends of their mother and father. So it goes, all the way back through the 3.5 billion years life has existed on earth, to LUCA -- our Last Universal Common Ancestor, most likely a small, single-cell organism.
So here I am, the present-day culmination of all this, sitting outside on our deck before I started writing this post, the natural world that gave me birth reflected in the window behind my chair.
My selfie is of half of my father. That's so much more meaningful to me than the few memories I have of John Hines, whether written down or encoded in the fading neuronal recollections of the several hours I spent with him telephonically or in person.
I've felt guilty that after the one hour I spent physically with my father, I didn't write down anything about the encounter. So what I'm left with now are just a few seconds of reasonably reliable/coherent mental images of what happened after I knocked on a Boston hotel room door and spent the hour with my father.
An hour of lived time shrinks to a few seconds of remembered time. And then, at some point... to nothing after I die.
Until that moment, though, my father lives on. In me. As me. Part of me, at least. A large part.
This morning I listened, as I habitually do, to a daily guided meditation on my iPhone's "Calm" app. Today's theme was Kindness. Near the end of the meditation, the woman who does the guiding said:
Let loving kindness extend through your whole body as you take those last few breaths.
She was speaking of the last few breaths that were part of the meditation practice, not the last breaths of my life (thankfully; I want to see Game 7 of the NBA Finals later today -- great Father's Day present, Warriors and Cavaliers!)
As she said those words, I felt that the best way I could remember my barely-remembered father today was to be aware -- really aware -- of myself and what I'll be experiencing on this Sunday.
After all, John Hines is an integral part of me. As is my mother. And their ancestors. And all other non-human livings beings all the way back to that Last Universal Common Ancestor.
My father is dead, but in some strange way he continues to live on through my eyes, my ears, my other senses, my thoughts, my feelings. I recollect that I spoke about this at the end of my Stories From the Dark Side talk (but it's been a while since I listened to it).
Here it is: