It wasn't until I sat in the living room that he built, and found it dark and empty, that I really felt that he was gone.
The wooden sign on the wall that said "Joe's Bar," the autographed picture of Lou Holtz that hung on the wall, his old recliner, the table with the ugly tablecloth that always had newspapers on it....
The stone and brick fireplace he'd built with his hands, and had lit for me so many times before, his US Navy picture from 1944 laid out on the table, his wedding picture from the late 50's next to it.
He was not a man without problems, and the two of us were not without our issues, though we never spoke of them. He was scarred, deeply scarred from that brutal war, and the only thing that could hold those festering wounds together was booze mixed with anger and regret- these things melded together to keep his blood warm on the inside.
I only knew him in what some might call his "golden" years, when the old lion held but a glint of the fire that had once raged so out of control and alienated so many.
But I do believe that deep somewhere in that sou of hisl, he was sorry doing what he did the first decade of my life. And somewhere, deep down in mine, I realized that I forgave him.
This life is just some of the saddest shit there is.