My Journey


WV-New-River-Gorge-BridgeI’m not sure what I thought I’d get out of this trip; I’m not even sure what it was I was looking for. I thought maybe I was still seeking closure in my relationship with my father. It was 7 years ago last week that my father died; he was cremated and interned in Arlington. We kept some of his ashes and my sister and I spread some at the Vietnam War Memorial because my father was a Vietnam Vet and that war screwed him up something fierce. We also spread some at the Law Enforcement Memorial because my father was a great Police Officer and retired Chief of his Department. I struggled to be my dad for many years…I learned that wasn’t such a good thing, but I wanted to return him, well a part of him, home to West Virginia-a place he spoke fondly of often. I made that promise to take him home, it took me 7 years but that was my journey.

As we all are Dad was flawed and many of his traits were not the best, I loved him deeply but at times didn’t like the man. The relationship I had with my dad when it was good was cop to cop not father to son. I don’t think I ever got that father to son relationship. When I was 17 he told me I couldn’t stay at home any longer because he didn’t want me to be a lazy bum-he didn’t know what I would do because I was still in High School WHO KNOWS WHERE LIFE WILL TAKE US. So when I left for this journey as I took my father’s ashes out of the Lenox bowl he’d been sitting in for 7 years I said look who was lying around the house being a bum! I packed him up and off I went.

I thought I’d find something along the way, some revelation, that I’d have these imaginary conversations with my dad in the car and everything would resolve itself. Perhaps I’d even find some funny out there on the road that would make this epic comedy bit that I could craft into a killer set on stage. Instead I got BLANK. I thought of NOTHING, no conversations with Dad, and no funny stories. I found peace and solitude and comfort in my mind. I thought a flood of emotion would wash over me I didn’t get it. I got serenity. I feel emotionally drained but I think it’s because, believe it or not I found inner peace.

As I was leaving the hotel to deliver my father to his home soil “Dust in the Wind” came on. I posted that to Facebook and people said it was your father coming to you and speaking to you. I don’t think so; my father would have come to me with Mitch Miller or some Bluegrass. I don’t think it was a coincidence, I believe it was a sign to tell me it was ok, because Nothing Last Forever but the Earth and Sky. The message was clear to me. My hurt and pain is over…gone…finished.

When I spread Dad’s ashes I poured them in my hand first to touch him one last time, I had hoped I’d feel his presence, I did not, I had hoped I’d feel emotion, I did not. I felt wet feet from the dew, I felt the cool breeze on my face, I heard the birds singing and I simply said good bye.

I hope that if our spirits do roam in places we loved that my father finds those streams he fished and swam in as a kid. That he finds his favorite tree that he climbed growing up, that he finds his friends from his youth that have also passed and they run through country meadows and catch frogs and do whatever they did that made them so happy as children. That he finds peace and happiness home in West Virginia.

I found that I didn’t need closure after all, I needed opening.

I’ll head home tomorrow.

Categories : Family Life


  1. Jan says:

    I am so very glad you made this trip, Eric- physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s up to each of us to find our path to peace and I am so glad you were able to find yours. After confronting my own father, I was surprised that I did not feel an overwhelming wash of forgiveness flow over me. Once I had matured enough, I did feel the need to face him down before he passed. (Given his advanced age and medical condition, I did not feel I had a great deal of time in which to marshal up my courage. I also felt that by exposing this family secret, I could prevent him from ever perpetrating it again upon anyone else.) Sometimes you don’t get what you want, but what you need.

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