Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day

I learn this morning via Facebook that today is Father's Day. How else would I, the father of five, have known? Oh well. I will take the opportunity to send best wishes to my own dad, though in the grave these 20 years. I do love you, Dad. I did. You were a cold sort of man, often distant, and, when not distant, stern. But you taught me how to fish, and you taught me well. People said that from a distance, when we were standing in a lake, casting our lines, they couldn't tell us apart. You did your best to teach me how to fix a car, and I obliged by always having a broken car to fix. You bought me my first car, and my second and third, and they were always fixer-uppers. When I went off the road in a snowstorm halfway to the coast, you came and got me. Every year, you forced us to go to the woods and cut a real Christmas tree and every year, you made fun of your sister's fake tree. You took us in the summer to Arizona and Nevada and California, the Redwoods and Yosemeti and Disneyland and the Space Needle, and always to the high cascades, the love of your life and of mine. With your friends, you were quite different. You were a very sociable man and retained friends even from the days of your youth. After your first son died in 1982, the remainder of your life became a parenthetical statement. You never recovered. I'm still working on it. My mother once scolded us for our complaints in these words: Your father is not a perfect man, but he would walk through fire for you. And you would have. I know that. You did. Happy Father's Day, Dad. If you were here now, I would try harder, I would try to understand, I would take the first step, I would kiss your bristly cheek without having to be proded by mom and I would gift you with greater sincerity those lousy licorice candies that you always loved.

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