An Appeal


My Dad appears to be dying. And I’m pretty much broke.

He lives in a little town in California; I live in a little town in upstate New York.

I haven’t been in very close contact with him the last few years, but it hasn’t been all my doing. The rough-barked cowboy bastard had his phone switched off a year or so back, and his lifelong habit is to never return letters or calls, so most of our contact has been one-way, through the mail. I set him up an email account about a year back, and wrote him the details of how easy it was to use, and where he could access it – the local library, which is on his way to town. His response: “I don’t do computers.”

So, uh, I’m going to ask for donations, so I can maybe get there to see him. Okay? Crap, I hate this.

Anyway, I should tell you about him. He’s not my father, but he is my Dad. I met him when I was about 21, and we’ve been close and closer and far and farther – kind of a sine wave of family connectedness – in the going-on-40 years since. Family connectedness of a sort that I never enjoyed with my “real” father, or my stepfather. I called him Old Ranger, or Old Man; neither of us were comfortable with me saying “Dad” right out in the open air, but it was how I always thought of him.

Below is a three-parter (written a while back) that says something about what it’s all been like. Just recently, we’ve been closer than the ending of this piece suggests. I’ve talked to him a few times on his friend’s cellphone, and he actually thanked me for calling – he was genuinely glad to hear from me.

Part 1Part 2Part 3Donation Request

And damn, I’ve missed him. He’s a true mountain man, a man with the bark on, and it was always hard to be close to him, but I think both of us knew how much we cared.

Dammit, I thought there would be more time. I kinda always expected he’d be THERE somehow, and anything broken between us could be fixed.

I want to see him this one last time.

I know there are plenty of people all over in worse situations than me, and we all donate to causes nearest and dearest to our hearts. But if you have a few dollars you’d like to contribute to THIS small cause, click the button:

[Donate button removed; read addendum below]

I really appreciate it, and I’ll keep you posted over the next several days on what happens.


I took out the donate button after getting enough to make the trip. The generosity of the FTB community has been overwhelming — thank you all for the kind words, well wishes, and donations! Special thanks to Greta Christina and PZ Myers for telling their readership about this post.

I have a flight to Los Angeles at 5:30 a.m. I’ll drive from there to the Eastern Sierra, where my Dad lives. I don’t know how many days I’ll be there. I’ll keep you all informed as much as I can while away, but I’ll be on borrowed (or library) computers, so updates may be erratic.