Sunday, May 4, 2014

{{ for My Dad on the eve of his birthday }}

Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you and hope the day is great.

The complexity and beauty of our bond has been a model for all other close and complicated relationships in my life. Any man I admire today has at least one trait I first admired in you: strength of intellect, masculinity, gentleness of heart, intuition, curiosity about the world and her people, generosity, humor and perseverance.

I remember being seventeen years old, the way you inspired me not to conflate an adolescent urge for activism with love --- nudging me away from my first felonious crush with, "There are no shortage of women writing letters to men in prison. The world doesn't need one more and it doesn't need to be my daughter." When I think now of how you probably felt at the prospect of my devotion to that cause, your diplomacy seems heroic.

Aside from the countless expressions of love and adventure you filled my childhood with, the restraint you often showed as I neared adulthood turns out to be a most tender part of our story.

When I was incapable of continuing college and begged you, squaring off at some preppy fountain in downtown Seattle on that sunny Autumn day, to bring me with you --- you didn't add to my disillusionment by mentioning the wasted scholarship. The wasted child standing in front of you was your only concern.

Three years later, we circled that same city in a rental car as I looked for a meeting of the 12-Step group that continues to ground my spiritual life. Hours passed and we never found it --- if you were exasperated, you didn't let on.

I'm not a model of filial duty, and I regret that. I sense that I've disappointed you most intimately when I've been unkind or deceptive towards others. Thanks for loving me through it.

When I ponder stories of desertion by fathers, I'm pierced by imagining a child not knowing their Dad as life deals its mixed bag of joys and blows. My humanity springs from yours, my perception of authority forever echoes your authority, and I have no problem conjuring a celestial image of God himself as a loving Father, because of you.

And here I am, typing to you at the last minute, partially in awe that my Daddy is 67. Maybe this could've all been written in a card and sent privately, but I trust you've long known that my procrastination and spaciness are matched by my desire for an audience. I'm working on it. : )

Thank you, above all else, for the baby brother. He's a solid man and a natural Uncle. His enthusiasm and creativity showered over our children feels just like being with you. Almost.


My life, it don't count for nothing.
When I look at this world, I feel so small.
My life, it's only a season:
A passing September that no one will recall.

But I gave joy to my mother.
And I made my lover smile.
And I can give comfort to my friends when they're hurting.
And I can make it seem better for a while.

My life, it's half the way travelled,
And still I have not found my way out of this night.
An' my life, it's tangled in wishes,
And so many things that just never turned out right.

But I gave joy to my mother.
And I made my lover smile.
And I can give comfort to my friends when they're hurting.
And I can make it seem better,
I can make it seem better,
I can make it seem better for a while. 


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