Archive for May, 2012

Pride and Pain

Friday, May 11th, 2012

As with most of these blog-bits, I’m not sure where this will lead, but we’ll see….I guess one has to have faith.

Thats part of what I’m feeling today, remembering the difficult weeks a year ago, when the one who holds my heart was being with her father as he passed from this life to next. I only met VG a few months earlier, and he quickly became part of the life we were building together. I meet a few people who are older than me in the course of my daily life, some are distant, you can tell when they shake your hand, they’re thinking about the next important thing they have to do, some, well, they work hard in that first few minutes to let you know how wealthy they are, or how important they are. But you meet some, you look in their eyes, and you see that they are looking into you. Not in a critical way, but in a way that lets you know, you’re their focus, right then, right there. Voris was that way, and Fredrick is that way too. They look, they smile, they listen. When they talk, I learn, that’s what makes them my elders. That’s what I give my respect to.

When you see them in a group, especially a family group, you see more. You see them looking around trying to keep up with all the chatter, sometimes working to get a word in edgewise, but then there are moments, you see it, the immense pride they have. Not in a stuffy or judgmental way, not putting on airs, but a pride in their family…like they see right then, right there, what they have made…a family. You see the pride they have in their children, and the way they light up when a grandchild talks to them, its almost as if you can see the energy being given from one generation to the next.

Maybe I see these glimpses because i’m a dad, and I know I can’t keep a poker face when I see what my daughters accomplish, its touching when it hits you, these are great people, and they are part of me. Who wouldn’t be touched by that? The tyranny of this is, I don’t get to know them well as elders, time in visits, time in life, makes these experiences fleeting, but when you see that look, the moment they realize they are the father of the family, and that the family is doing good and amazing things, it just stops time. Like the room full of people around them are in a freeze frame, but they’re still moving. I know when I have those moments with my daughters, time stops. I flash back to Pachelbel’s canon coming through the radio as i held them for the first time…how did that song come on at that moment, on days that were two years apart? It still mystifys me. If i told VG that story out loud, I think he’d say “o ye of little faith”, Fredrick would make a big smile and say a long drawn out “ohhh yeah, how did that happen?” But in those frozen moments, when she’s walking across a stage, their first dance recital, interviewing as a Rhodes finalist, or making a crosswind landing, you remember. Their first time getting on the schoolbus, their first touch of the ocean, the moments of grief you shared, the moments of beauty when you could stand with them quietly, everyone knowing the moment was about the beauty…

Pride comes from all that. Sharing the ups and downs, the simple things, and the complex problems. It comes from slowly letting them go, like the first time they ride on two wheels, they’re on their own, but you’re running after them as fast as you can to catch them, just in case….Pride isn’t unique to dads, I see it in a mothers faces too. Maybe its easier to see, or I see it more often, I’m not sure. I’m learning that pride is a two way street, and as much as I am proud of my daughters, they’re starting to tell me they’re proud of me too. Talk about a deep touch to the heart!

I don’t think I ever told my Dad or Mom that I was proud of them. I’m not sure why, it just never occurred to me. But as Mother’s day is just around the corner, maybe, tell Mom that… in a card, or a whisper, or a quiet moment in the car. Pride is a two way street.

As the one who holds my heart and I begin planning our ceremony, our wedding, I’m feeling a new kind of pride. Her daughter, who postponed the beginning of her professional life, to care for VG, and look after the one who holds my heart, got her first job in the profession of architecture. Seeing her study, learn, work hard when no one was pushing but herself, and then succeed through tricky interviews, I felt a pride in her accomplishment, not because I had anything to do with it, but because I’m getting to know her, and her brother. Next year at this time, maybe this day, he will receive his degree. I thought of that today, as my students were coming across the stage, and I felt it. Being a step-significant-other is kind of a tricky thing, I absolutely don’t want to be seen as trying to replace their Dad. Their Dad works hard to be in their life, and I can see how important it is to them. But i find myself running after the bicycle, only I’m farther back, behind the one who holds my heart, and their Dad, but still, I’m there…something for another blog one day I think.

I think the reason we feel pain when we lose someone we’re proud of is because pride and love are pretty much the same. We feel the same kind of sadness when we lose them, from life, or from our immediate touch, or from our sphere of learning. I find myself trying to hold on to the wisdom I learn from those I have pride in, thats what happens in those freeze frame moments for me.

Here’s to hoping you have a freeze frame moment with your Mom this weekend as I have with my graduating students. Remember to whisper your love and pride in her when you give her that hug, in person, on the phone, or in memory. Pride is a two way street, believe it.

Be good to each other!