The call arrived today at 7:44am and, in seconds, the world changed yet again. Jonathan David Zetty, the man I have known as “father” since 1972, was dead.
As is usual for such things I suppose, my thinking mind did not absorb what I was being told; even as the back of my head acknowledged it with a galvanic shudder and seizing fit of weeping. I had the rather confusing experience of knowing that I was crying, but not actually know why for a minute… my mind, left in the dust, was struggling to keep up.
Jonathan, David, or just Dave to his friends, was a burly and jovial man; he was the kind of man who always saw the humor in things and usually across a diverse spectrum ranging from satire to sarcasm to the subtle. He was not an intellectual man, but he wore that reality as a badge of paradoxically humble pride; he liked being “a man’s man” and he savored life in ways that I have only known a few to truly manage. He supped upon life, like a buffet, and everyone who knew him will nod and smile recognition when I say that his trademark chuckle and almost boyish enthusiasm for, well, everything, was among his most endearing (if not at times, exacerbating) traits.
He was also a spiritual man; Dave’s depth of belief and faith not only in God, but in others, made him someone you always wanted to feel proud of you. He had this way of simple understanding that put all the fancy concepts and over-thinking to silence for shame. It didn’t matter what “your story was”, you were a human being, that meant you had God’s love, and that was good enough for him… so he loved you, too. This was a lesson I took to heart, and I would never have known it were it not for him.
I know better than many how true the above paragraph is because I had the gift of its day to day experience in my life. Dave was the father I never had, just as he was the father I’ll always have, even now, when he has passed beyond my knowing. Because he was here, because he loved me, and because he was as he was, my life has had a light of love and acceptance that I would not have known otherwise.
He wasn’t someone who ran deep, but he ran true… truer than almost anyone I’ve ever known, truer than most, and I’d be willing to wager easily as true as the northern star, as Polaris.
It will be some time before I can stop myself from thinking that I’ll call him to share some bit of humor or whatnot. Likely longer still before the pang of re-remembering that he has passed will quiet and dissipate. But for all that time and likely some time thereafter, I do not think I will be able to see Polaris without thinking of it as my direct line… without having that same, comfortable, candid conversation as I’ve always had with him.
My father was a good man; a dependable, eager, and solidly reliable man. To have even one of those qualities is an increasing rarity these days… to have been blessed to know them all was a true gift, indeed.
I will miss you, dad…. but I am eternally thankful I have the chance to do so.
I love you.