My sister Kate reminded me this morning that today, November 9, is the anniversary of our father’s death, 35 years ago to be exact. He died in the hospital, having never fully recovered from an operation the week before. Strong memories of that week.
- His three sons coming into the pre-op room, standing by his bed to wish him well. I had come up to Bridgeport, Connecticut from San Antonio, Texas, because we weren’t sure if he would make through the operation.
- Standing by his bed with my sister Debbie as he woke from the anesthesia. He asked what day it was. I said, “It’s Monday, November 1st, All Saints Day.” He snapped, “If it’s November 1st, I know it’s All Saints Day.” I took that as a good sign.
- A day or two later (my memory is fuzzy) when he finally came out of intensive care, I went to say good-bye because things looked like I could get back to work in San Antonio. My sister Kate came in with me, bringing her new daughter and his newest grand-child Sarah. He was very happy to see the baby.
- Before I left my father told me that I could have his Shaeffer Targa fountain pen, which he had with him to write in his journal. He may also have been trying to do legal work. He was like that in both regards.
After I was back in San Antonio, Dad took a turn for the worse, but still hung on until the following Tuesday, November 9. When I came back to Bridgeport for his funeral, I was told that the pen had gone missing in the hospital, probably stolen. This was my first experience of profound grief. (I almost fainted when it came time to close his casket.) So loss of his pen was the least of my concerns. At that moment.
My brother Patrick felt badly about what happened so he bought me a pen in the place of my father’s. I appreciated his love, but I still yearned for my father’s Targa, or at least one just like it. In those years I fancied myself a poet and was working on a series of poems along the model of François Villon’s Testament. My father’s pen was included.
Item: whoever stole my father’s pen,
the one he gave me just before he died,
can keep it ’cause I have no other choice.
If you one day should chance to hear my voice,
beware your nose will soon be modified.
Shaeffer stopped making Targas some years ago. Over the past ten years or so, I’ve been able to find some Targas for sale on the web, but they had fluted or cross-hatched metallic barrels. Not the solid matte black like my father’s and like the one pictured above.
Appropriately on this, the 35th anniversary of my father’s death, I found the following for sale:
*Sheaffer Full Size Targa Fountain Pen – Black Matte & Gold Plated Trim – Cartridge/Converter Fill (Converter Included)
Description : Medium 14 Kt Gold Nib – Original Box – Mint
Made later, but still just like his. It should get here in a few days.