I didn’t realize it but I started to think about my father yesterday.  It was the day after the anniversary of  his death.  I had lit the memorial candle in our house but the day seemed to pass without any twinge or reflection.

There was just this thickening fog or mist descending on me, which I put down to the heat and humidity, an oppressive squeezing of my thoughts ’til they were unable to leave the ordinary and the mundane.  Get up.  Wash.  Brush your teeth.  Eat breakfast.  Go to work.  And so on.

Yesterday, the fog lifted.  I had a chance to see the ornamental gardens at the Experimental Farm.  They were extraordinary.  The odours and sights of brilliantly coloured flowers and trees with fantastic shapes just filled my brain to bursting.  I was totally relaxed.

As the day progressed, the heavy weight descended on my head and pushed me towards the ground.  I stumbled although I had not drunk anything.  I felt somehow miles away from my feet which were moving on their own, rather stiffly.  The pressure was stretching me out instead of compressing me.  I thought I would break in two.

I was kept busy with other things but as the afternoon drew to a close, I realized the effort at keeping my body together and functioning was exhausting.  I could barely speak as my mouth and mind slowed to a crawl and it seemed to me all I could produce was long drawn out sounds and slurred speech.

This morning, I started to come to terms with the source of my discomfort.  I went to the synagogue and said Kaddish over my father and this time I fel completely separate from the other people there.   What pulled my head from my feet yesterday, drew me out of my body and away from the other members of my congregation.  They all spoke to me and I answered but it felt like I was speaking from another dimension.  At several points in the service, I had to put my head down, it was almost bursting like a balloon filled with helium.

My father was a worthy man but a man with his own faults and suffering.  The one thing I can say about him is that he did not fit in.   He was a fish out of water in his social circle and likewise in my everyday world.  He did not fit.  He was a rebel who could not work in a unionized shop because they emphasized speed and production numbers whereas he loved to caress the cloth and perfect the cutting and sewing and pressing.  He was not satisfied until everything fit perfectly.  No matter how socially adept he could be, he was still alone and when he was in a crowd of people from his home town his head always stuck out from the crowd.  “The tall Nuchim” is what they called him.  I always had the sense of his being himself and singular no matter who surrounded him.

Perhaps that is the sensation he has passed on to me.  No matter the group I am with, I somehow do not fit in.  Often, I will seek a way to think of myself as not quite fitting, even if I have much in common with others.  I recreate the sensation of aloneness as if I crave it.  And yet it is that sense of aloneness, of loneliness, which causes me the pain I feel. 

Ultimately, perhaps, I cannot help making myself outcast because that is who I am.  Here is the kicker.  Of all the people in the world who hugged me when I was young, he hugged me the best and it is in his arms that I felt myself at home and wanted.

Today, I remembered my father and drifted away from the world.