In case you haven't noticed, I've been missing from both these virtual pages and the actual dead-tree pages of Westword for the past couple of weeks. And while I'm sure that some of you out there in Hotcakesland have rejoiced in thinking that finally someone over here came to his or her senses and canned my punk ass, that isn't quite the case.
My father, Mike Sheehan, died two weeks ago. It was fast. It was painless. And though there's never a good way for stories like his to end, he found the best way out that a man like him could: dying at home, after a nice meal and a day in his garden, with his loved ones around him. I was, needless to say, on a plane within hours of hearing the news, and have spent the intervening time with my mom, my brother and my people back in upstate New York, lifting many glasses in his honor and telling stories about the wonderful life that he and my mother lived.
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Those, though, are all tales for other days. And in the meantime, I am now back in the saddle and trying to get caught up with all that has transpired during my brief absence from my adopted home. Next week, things ought to be more or less back to normal, with me ranting and carrying on about cheeseburgers, green chile and pho. And while I'll admit that I did think (briefly) that I might never be able to care about such petty things again, if I have taken any happy thing away from this experience, it was a simple reminder that food -- for all its strangeness and history, for all its power and pettiness and glory and reach -- is truly one of the greatest comforts the human animal has yet devised.
I've said before that no great or moving event in my life has ever transpired without food being somehow close to the center of it. And surely, these past two weeks have been no exception.