June 15

Like a lot of people I’m thinking of my father this quiet morning. Starlene is here, sleeping just inside the door. It’s a perfect blue ridge morning. The air smells sweet, is filled with bird sounds and only the occasional rumble of a car or buzz of a heat pump. Maggie is camping with friends, Erin is waking up in South America this morning.

It seems that for better or worse, we become a mix of our parents. In body and spirit I’m a mix of what my parents were. I’ve got some of the same wrinkles, the same hairline, but unlike, or maybe it’s just my memory building up dad, I get stuck, have a harder time getting off center to act than my memory of dad. Maybe it’s not true completely, there were things dad had a hard time getting back to…the open breaker panel over the dryer… but by the time his accident happened, I don’t think he had much left on the “to do” list. He rebuilt his father’s cabin, added a few sheds of his own, added on to the house with a carpenter named Ted, built and rebuilt the garage, then hired? people to add on a little minnesota to the front of his chicago house. We were mostly moved out by then, I could see he was making the spaces of his life as he liked them… a comfortable chair, a place for fire, bay window, then gardens. Gardens trimmed with rocks we took down from the fireplace at the cabin, gardens raised above the yard, his idea of what mom might like to work in from her wheelchair, which I don’t think ever happened.

I worked with dad for a week or two every summer for about ten years I think. Leaving my family at the start of summer, always a hard choice, but I thought there might not be many more chances. We’d work side by side from about six in the morning till about four, a standard construction day, but not interact much more than to talk about how we were going to build or what materials we might build that part of the cabin with. About the only insight we’d have into each other’s personality was when we’d drop something on our foot or hit some part of our hand with a hammer, everybody expresses anger/pain differently, but it was in the moments just after that you’d see into a person…how easily (or not) a person accepted help…whether they would carry on or use the pain to stop work…whether they would blame the tool, the wood, someone else or themselves for the errant hammer strike (never volunteer to hold the nail for someone else) in owning up or in passing the buck, you could learn something about the injured party.

So when I get angry, its just because of something I did…I don’t encounter injustice that often, it seems when I do, the learning I have to do about the processes surrounding the next steps in legal procedure prevent the anger, or repress it? So it’s harder to learn from the aftermath than it is when you see someone hit their thumb with a hammer.

Not very clear but there is real insight in the above I think.

I’m also thinking back to having become a father. Remembering the promises made (and mostly kept) when a birth was going badly. Fatherhood, like motherhood I’d guess is intimidating. You get a lot of time to make the transition, but it still seems like one day you’re not a father, the next day you are. It’s intimidating, overwhelming, and the greatest thing all at the same time. You get to know what it feels like to be proud, really proud of your children. Something you can’t really understand until it happens. I look at Erin and Maggies grandfather and see that it’s “once a father, always a father” father for life. But the role changes from provider protector to teacher coach to….? I’m not sure of my role at this point. But I’m always proud, and a happy recipient of calls and visits.

Time to walk Starlene.

One Response to “June 15”

  1. tacousar says:

    good to hear your reminiscing about dad…and you’re right, you can learn a lot about a person from the way they handle mishaps…I know dad would get upset but he didn’t tend to blame other people, he always held himself accountable for his mistakes….I enjoyed reading this! I enjoy your writing! write more!!

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