Sunday, June 16, 2013

Simple Sunday ~ Father's Day

My brother called me last night to ask, do you have a photo of Dad? I answered, yeah, but they're in the precious stuff stashed at a friend's house for when I leave here for hurricane season and haven't gathered back for the last 4 or 5 years. Where's YOUR photos of Dad? I asked. He said they were in boxes he'd sent ahead to his eventual retirement and current fun place in North Carolina.

Bottom line, we both have Dad so much in our heads that photos of him, rare and special, aren't really needed on a regular visual basis. He lives in us every day, speaking out loud when we fish and cook and pick up errant trash. When we laugh or start a conversation, when our bullshit detector goes into the red line, when our heart true detector goes into the thumpbumpwatta (is that you Dad? Ok, I'm listening) wumppaapaapaaohhhhh zone.

So, here is a photo of my Dad. Somewhere very close  between Danny Thomas and Ben Cartwright. And Superman. My girlfriends who would come to spend the night LOVED my Dad. But they also said, 'Is he in the Mafia? He looks scary, and then you know him and he's not scary at all'. All four of us kids felt the same. He wasn't a tall man, but his piercing eyes under bushy spiked black eyebrows could lay you down in a second for truth. Square hands, hands that knew the silk of a 5th Avenue tie and the handles of a plow and the sweet leather of a classic car and the tiller of a boat and pots and pans.. A back broad as the world, ready to carry us anywhere. And he did. And he didn't. But he wanted to and did the best he could to get us where we wanted to go. We all make our choices. Here's to you, Dad, thank you. Thank you.

I wrote this a few years ago, I'll probably keep posting it. Most likely because he deserved a lot more credit than he got (though at the end, we were all four with him and we were all as there as there gets). It's the best I can do to say thank you from a long distance.

My father raised four of us from the time I was four years old. He wasn't perfect, but he loved us all the best he knew how...and did a pretty damn fine job of it. The dark spots brighten in the light of his love (which, as I tell my own children, covers a multitude of parental errors).

He taught me how to cook and that the cook's helper gets to, and in fact, must *taste test* whatever is cooking. That's the law.

He taught how to capture fish and clams and shrimp and crabs, and how to clean and eat them too. He taught me how to swim and ride a horse and how to drive a car. But not all at the same time.

He taught me to see in the dark by taking us to watch sea turtles lay eggs on the beach at midnight. He taught me how to be quiet (yes, really, sometimes I am). He taught me to see in the light what is to be seen and to not overlook it.

He taught me how to sail and how to not be afraid of most things. He taught me to take care of myself, whether I wanted to or not. He taught me to not hold back on hugs or kisses or saying 'I love you'. He taught me not to pretend affection, and that I didn't have to do any of those things if I didn't mean it, that being polite was good enough.

He taught me that good manners are a way to live in the world more easily; a ticket to glide, not a false chore.
He taught me that there are good people and bad people and anything else about them really doesn't matter. Stick with one, stay away from the other: once you know which is which, it's pretty easy, though the mistakes will be costly, they can be lived through and beyond.

He taught me to love stories in life and stories in books, not to litter, not to lie and not to steal. And that if I had only one true friend in the whole world, that I was wealthy beyond measure. I am beyond any wealth in the universe if that is true. I think it is.

He taught me about good food and good liquor and how to live well without a lot of money. He taught me that simple is better than showy, and lasts a lot longer. He taught me none of this with words, he just did it, lived it and brought me along for the ride.

He's still teaching me, the same way. Happy Father's Day, Dad. Thanks. Hope you like my Culebra view (I know you do).

 Have a simple Sunday. Do something savoring.