The Gift of the Father

Today I begin introducing the stories in Coming to Terms, my collection of short stories being published this month by Adelaide Books of New York.

So much of my writing focuses on fathers and sons. That is the relationship that most intrigues me. And so “The Gift of the Father,” the first story in the collection, tells of the reunification of a father and a son after many years of estrangement. The son, who is homosexual, had become a priest. His father abandoned him as a child to embrace the life of a homosexual himself. He lies in a hospital dying of AIDS. His son finds him at last.

At the height of the AIDS epidemic, I volunteered to care for men suffering from the disease. Over five years, I had seven patients. They were all gay. They all died. I got into the AIDS business because I needed to be able to focus on the needs of others worse off than me. When I did that, my Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI), from the unbearable memories of my years in combat in Vietnam, faded into the background. When the AIDS crisis was over, I worked with the homeless, then spent seven years as a volunteer in a hospice. The experience of working with men dying of AIDS so moved me that I wrote a novel about it, No-Accounts.

The father and son in “The Gift of the Father,” like all the characters in the book, find some form of peace at the end of the story. Their love overcomes their difference.

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