Shorter Than You Were

I don’t have many clear memories of him. He was sort of a peripheral member of the family in my young eyes. In fact, the only times I really saw him were at family gatherings like birthdays, holidays and the like. What I do remember of him was money, fitness, beer and loud laughing. I remember him saying vulgar things at the dinner table that made the kids laugh, the parents look uncomfortable and the grandparents frown. In the later years of my youth I heard the darker stories from my parents regarding his lifestyle. The divorce came and went and he faded out of the larger family’s life.

I saw him recently at a funeral. He seemed fragile, depleted, sad. Attempting to display a front of calm compassion and support came across as nervous confusion. He looked like a puzzle piece that arrives at the table only to find a more compatible piece has taken its place. I remember speaking with him briefly. I remember overhearing his nearby conversations with relatives. I can’t seem to recall any of the words however. All that comes to mind is thinking “He is shorter than I remember him”.