Happy Father’s Day, Mr. Zappa

Dear Frank,

I’m hitting another milestone year. On my next birthday, I will have officially lived longer than you did.

My first one of these milestone years was when I turned 38, and I realized that I had lived as long as my dad had until he was killed in a motorcycle accident in Manhattan. I remember standing on my back porch, trying to imagine *poof*! it’s over at that age. My kids were 12 and 7 at that point, so much gone by and yet so much left to do. I couldn’t really fathom it. Can one ever?

You see Frank, you’re one of my adoptive fathers – which is to say I adopted you growing up. Stuff you said in your work and in your life resonate deeply with me. Your voice remains very familiar to me. I guess I have a few other adoptive dads floating around – John Lennon comes to mind – but I actually have dreams where you appear to me and offer me guidance and direction. Yeah, sometimes you criticize my playing too. But when you appear, you’re definitely in the role of Dad. Mentor. Father.

So today, the Day After Father’s Day, I’m mulling it over once again. What if all of a sudden *poof*! Of course, in your case, you knew it was coming because you were sick for a pretty long time and in a lot of pain. I’m sorry you had to go through that, Frank. I’m sorry you went when you did, the way you did.

I know you really loved your kids. A lot’s been written about your work habits, and how your children referred to you as that grumpy man who comes up from the basement from time to time, but look at them. They love you so much, still.

My Father’s Day present was a drunken call from my younger daughter, wanting to get picked up in the wee hours, far from home, because she had missed her train back to Boston. I declined and suggested she call her mom. We haven’t spoken since. If I could have one real Father’s Day present, it’s that she would wake up and figure out that she needs to help herself – nobody else will do it for her. She needs to stop blaming the world and take the steps she needs to take to keep herself safe and sober.

Underneath the rage and selfishness, I know she loves me. It’s just not in her this year to show it to me on Father’s Day.

Oh well. There’s always next year.