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I held my father as long as I could. I didn’t want to be selfish. So I asked the nurse for more morphine. I’m worried that he didn’t hear the promises I made to him. But I didn’t want him to hurt. So I asked the nurse for more morphine, again.

There was a whole other life, before I was born. I have so many questions and few answers. I never knew my real last name until I stumbled across my father’s naturalization papers months after his death. And there’s the war. And my family in the old country that I’ve never met. But I had a standing order to never reach out to them. “Someday I’ll tell you why,” he’d say.

This is what I do know. My father was an immigrant who once went to church. He became a Marine. He did unforgiveable things. He came back to a country whose obsession with consumerism and celebrity was a corruption of principles for him, and so he turned to art. He refused to discard something with potential. It was his indictment on the “American Way”. This applied to everything from used nails, which could be straightened and used again, to people. He took in all strays. Even the bees found refuge on his property. Perhaps this was his apology.

He was a loving father, but there was a heaviness of memory about him. He carried his past with him, and this piece was impenetrable. Now my father is gone, and I have his things. I’m trying to find the answers to my father’s narrative through the collective consciousness of what he kept, what he carried, and what he hid.