Not knowing it would be the last month of his life, Dad and I went on a sentimental journey to where I had grown up. I was still in the depression and Dad thought a trip together would help. It did. It was the first and last trip we ever made together. But it was enough. All I needed from him was that he be himself. He didn't need to be hero or sage. Just my dad. And I was in no shape to be his savior or to make him proud. I was out of spiritual gas.
We visited our old house in Phoenix on 11th Avenue where I grew up, now a slum. We visited the elementary schools (Adams and Kenilworth) and high school (Phoenix Union) that I remembered with quasi fond memories. And we visited the old Phoenix Second Ward building where we attended church. Its Old Spanish style saved it from demolition as an historical architectural site.
The trip was a mixed blessing. It was soul balm to be with Dad without inner or outer demands. We just hung out together. But Dad's confessions surprised me: he expressed resentments I'd never heard from him. He had long felt the Church and my mother frustrated his creativity. I was shocked and unhappy with him that he had allowed anyone to usurp his soul responsibility and I made a silent vow that that would never happen to me. (Boy! Would I eventually find out what mischief such a vow can make!)
We returned to southern California with a new relationship: Dad with me and I with a new resolve. Only a week or two later, Dad was gone, and I snapped out of my depression. I felt my spiritual work had just begun.