In an effort to keep moving forward with writing, here’s a brain-dump of something I’ve been kicking around my head for the past few days:
My name is Liam Torbaugh. I was named after my father’s brother, who he only met once when he was a child.
Shortly after my Uncle Liam was delivered in the hospital, God seemed to change his mind and took the baby boy away. Liam’s last, shallow breath left his tiny lungs and his hazel-colored eyes, fixed upon a much younger version of my father, slowly closed for the last time as my father held his fragile baby brother in his arms. Dad was six years old at the time. Every major event in his life since that cold February morning so many years ago, dad claimed that his little brother was there with him, watching and protecting. He could feel his presence.
“Just my luck,” my father used to say, “my guardian angel is a 27-minute-old infant.”
My father became ill and was overrun by aggressive lung cancer six months ago. The ironic part was that my father never smoked. Cigarette smoke made him violently ill, which brought him endless ridicule from his co-workers.
He used to get up very early in the morning, heft on his thick coat, pull on his cap and head out the door with his work gloves gripped firmly in one hand and his thermos of coffee in the other. Dad was a dockworker, or so I had been told, and he always came home tired as a whipped mule. It wasn’t until after he died that I came to learn that working at the docks wasn’t all dad did.
“What about your mother?” you might be wondering. Well, dear old mom found more joy with a bottle of whiskey than she ever did being a mother. Maker’s Mark was her drink of choice. Mom never left us, although she may as well have, since she was rarely more involved in my upbringing than the coat rack that stood silent by the front door for all those years, watching it all unfold.
Photo: Taber Andrew Bain