Dad

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March 22, 2020-

My father would have been 93 years of age, today.  He transitioned on June 22, 1986, three months after his 59th birthday.  Dad was a middle manager, in the jet engine  department of the General Electric Company’s Riverworks Plant, in Lynn, MA.  He told me it wasn’t the greatest job in the world, and it often seemed to me that his overlords didn’t appreciate him to the fullest.  I know he did his level best.

Dad was slow to adapt to new ways of doing things, but he wasn’t rigid in his thinking, save his steadfast frugality.  He taught me to consider all points of view, even those that seemed counter-intuitive.  He was engaged with his five children and never, once, favoured one of us over the other.  Discipline was meted out as fairly as he knew how, with the facts he had at the time.

He was a man of faith, but was not an ideologue.  He attended Catholic Mass, most every Sunday, yet also didn’t miss a television appearance by Billy Graham, who he greatly admired.  His belief was that all Christians revered the same Son of God. This paved the way for my own belief in the Oneness of all religions, which he accepted of me, while silently shaking his head.

When there was an emergency, he handled it-even if, on occasion, he was physically spent and grumbled a bit.  He cared for all around him, taking in a sick brother at one point-and consistently pulling himself together to see to the needs of his youngest child.

Dad could seem to look at life through rose-coloured glasses, but deep down, I know that he knew there was a problem that just was not going away-whether it was my youngest brother’s illness or his own, which took his life far too soon.  He had his moments of magical thinking and attempts to escape reality, as many of us have, but he always came back to the life, and the woman, he loved most.

I thank you, father, for all you did and for what you expected of me.  God knows, it took me long enough to achieve it.

Niners

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April 18, 2019-

Age nine found me whimsical,

lost ever in my own thoughts,

save when it came to lessons,

in Mrs. Kimball’s class.

Age nineteen found me lackadaisical,

flitting in and out of other people’s lives,

with no thought as to my effect on them.

Age twenty-nine found me desultory,

often lost in the bottle,

floating along Arizona’s highways,

or the backroads of the  wider West,

yet making a stab at conveying math,

to myself and my students.

Age thirty-nine found me devoted,

to my wife and toddler son.

The fragrance of Jeju,

and the progress of my English-teacher candidates,

filled out my world.

Age forty-nine found me wary,

of any and all politicians,

of a wayward shaman,

whose stated goal was

to bring about my ruin.

Age fifty-nine found me crumbling,

about to lose the most important

person in my life,

to the dis-ease that had

stalked her,

for over fifty years.

Age sixty-nine is seven months off,

yet it may well find me

in a state of flux.

Regardless,

I know my life is aimed

towards wholeness,

towards growth,

ever looking past

mere survival.

 

The Road to 65, Mile 205: Father’s Day

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June 21, 2015, Monroe, WA- I woke , to a bit late today, around 7:15, to speak with my son on this Hallmark morning.  It’s always good to hear his voice, contrived occasion or not.  I was in the suburban clime of Mount Vernon, had been wished “Happy Father’s Day” by the waitress at Farm House Restaurant, in this city’s La Conner neighbourhood, after getting off the ferry last night, and got a somewhat more subdued greeting from the server at Riverside Cafe, near the motel, during breakfast this morning.  Racial politics, Hispanic vs. Anglo, seems to be playing out a bit in this community, which is always a hard thing.  I was given my breakfast, and two cups of coffee, then expected to leave.  Riverside will not see me again., though Farm House would be a pleasure.

I was in a funk, not knowing which direction to head, yet after reclaiming some items I had left at Holiday Motel, the day before, and enjoying some coffee and a treat at Johnny Picasso’s, in Anacortes, I had an idea.  Heading to Arlington, and Oso, the site of a horrible mudslide in March, 2014, I took some time for prayer towards racial healing, as several people back in Arizona were gathering to pray for the same, with the Charleston Massacre as their focal point.  There is no one group that does not need a healing balm.

The message was clearer to me after that, and I drove east on Highway 2, finding the small town of Monroe to be a good place to rest.  The Monroe Motel lies alongside Woods Creek, so there was no finer place for me to observe today, thinking of fatherhood-how it affected me as a son, as a son-in-law, as a spouse and as a parent. 158

I was not an easy son.  My happy-go-lucky, but hard-working father did not know what to make of me, half the time.  I did not know what to make of me, half the time.  I wonder if he knew how much he was loved, back then.  He knows now.

157

My role with my father-in-law was part good-natured foil for his jokes, and part guarantor of his family line’s continuing on in safety.  We gave him his only grandson, and that guaranteed my safety. He knows now, how important it was to me that Aram actively knew his grandfather.  Both of mine were dead before I emerged from toddlerhood.

159

Penny and I were close to nature, as individuals and as a pair.  She would sometimes, in the throes of her progressive decline, say that she felt she was in my way.  In truth, she WAS my way.  She knows that now.

160

I have gone through a fair number of personal struggles, in my late teens, in my twenties, and in the buffeting called my fifties.  Somehow, I have emerged.  Fatherhood happened for me, in the best way I knew at the time.  There was a lot more I could have provided, for my son’s stability.  I realize that now.

He’s okay, thanks to the discipline of the Navy, and his grandfather’s guiding hands of steel and velvet.  I am here for him, and can finally show a solid example of how to move through life, come hell or high water.  Aram knows that now.

155

I went into this lovely, if cavernous, establishment in downtown Monroe.  A Caesar salad, meat lasagna and a bowl of spumoni were my Father’s Day meal.  Half the lasagna was saved for tomorrow, and my drive to Wenatchee, where I will reconnect with friends from three  years ago.

I end this with Monroe’s comment on the whole race issue.

161

My spirit guides are with me, still.