Goodbye, Dad
David Wagner:  1938 - 2007
May 15, 2007


Dad and me
(East Corinth, Vermont)

In a New England forest during autumn, under a tree that's just lost its leaves, my dad and I are talking politics and philosophy. Discussing politics with family members has become emotionally and socially risky in these times -- but, between him (a former Planned Parenthood executive) and me, politics is one of the safe topics of conversation, and no argument ensues. While sifting ideas on what to do about George W. Bush and how to protect a women's right to choose -- (yes, this really is what we talk about) -- light washes over us from the sun low in the horizon (is it rising? setting? I don't know) and, for a moment, I turn away.

It is in this moment that he jumps into the lowest branches of the tree, and the sunlight upon him has turned golden red. He smiles and gives me a wink. A mild gust buffets the branches. Ever the photography enthusiast, I'm thinking that this would make a great picture. I reach for my camera, but all I have is a little candy bar cell phone, and each time I try to take a picture, I only catch a blur as he deftly climbs higher into the tree.

Soon Dad is perched in the highest branches of the tree. He waves at me and I wave back. He looks up at the clouds, now gray-blue and salmon colored, and starts to float upward. Branches snag his legs and hold him tenuously, as a tree holds a fruit about to fall, but they soon let go, and he is free.

He lofts upward from the forest and I catch glimpses of other people with him, spirits dancing with my dad.

Distracted by the sun glinting off the rustling trees, I lose sight of him.

"Goodbye, Dad," I say. Goodbye.


When I was a child, I had small, cheap Instamatic camera (my first camera), and as in the dream above, capturing what I saw was an elusive process. Nonetheless, I did have some early photographic success. Here are some snapshots of my dad, two of which I'd shot with the Instamatic:

Dad and Granddad
(This is one my first photos.)
Mom, Dad, my sister, and me
(another of my early photos)
Dad and me on a mountain on the coast of Maine
Dad's snapshot of me on the mountain
Allie (my stepmother), me, and Dad






Copyright 2001-2007 Eric Wagner All rights reserved.