On this 4th Day of Gratitude, I give thanks for my father, and all the fathers in the world.
Every day I walk by two places where my father’s watchful gaze is seen. Though he isn’t with us any longer, my memories are strong and inform my every interaction.
The Yang to Mother’s Yin
When I think of Dad, my memories are filled with how he showed up in the world – at home, at work, in the community, in organizations. Whether in public or in private quarters, my dad showed me how to interact one-on-one with whatever was in front of me.
Dads do that. They show us how to DO things – how to observe, analyze, plan and implement so that we can get the result we want.
They teach us how to think about our part in the whole. Sometimes we have to think of what is in the best interest of the greater good, and choose between our individual desires and what will be best “for all concerned.”
They show us the individual attitude needed to persevere in difficult times, as well as the way to step back and be part of a team while maintaining our individuality.
They also show us when to step aside.
It’s hard for me to write about being a dad.
I’ve never been a dad and never will be.
I can only share some of the images that I am grateful for that are indelibly etched in my memory:
- Watching Dad make a kite out of bamboo strips, then flying it in the Knights of Columbus kite-flying contest
- Fishing in the Ozarks and catching lots of bluegills
- His erect stance, with head slightly tilted, a smile curling up the edges of his mouth.
- His / My hands
- The way he called me “Girl” – only a handful of times
- Standing alone with him behind the church entry doors as the Love Theme from “Superman” began to play, he touched my arm, slightly raised his eyebrows, and gently asked, “Are you ready, girl?”
- His gentle touch
- His anger at injustice
- Playing chess after work with my aunt
- Wearing plumed hat, satin cape, and sword as Grand Knight and part of the Knights of Columbus Color Guard
- Dancing with all the widows and older single women, but Mom always had the last dance
- Baiting the hook and fishing at Berkeley Pier
- Smoking Kent cigarettes, the stick pursed between lips and tilted up so the ashes wouldn’t fall
- The glow of his cigarette in the dark as the trash mound burned
- Carrying Mom’s big camera case wherever they traveled
- Michelin Man
- Bowling with community groups
- Singing in the church choir
- Connecting with the land and its cycles at the almond orchard
- Planting green beans and tending to the garden every evening
- Opening envelopes by tearing off the end
- His joy on our first visit to the Philippines and pride in sharing his family
- Putting on the Igorot hat, squatting on the hillside and looking into the distance, cigarette held between his lips
- Fishing at Ocean Beach with the long ocean fishing poles
- Fishing derbies at Lake Chabot
- Dad with my cousin and his young male friends
- His willingness to try anything
- His mischievousness – climbing the statue at the St. Louis FANHS Convention
- Fixing the car
- Figuring out how to DO things
Like many, my relationship with my father was up and down. We were much alike, so eventually gave each other wide berth when needed. In those times, as now, those many memories gathered over the years kept us connected.
I am so very grateful for those memories. And for the man who made them and me possible.
Thank you, Dad.
Today, give thanks for your father. If you can, tell him. Even better, show him.
Blessings and peace,