Sunday, June 20, 2010
Thoughts On Father's Day
These were Saturdays when you were home and relaxed. I would lie in the fragrant new grass underneath the frame of the porch couch, and poke my stuffed toy White Fang's head up through the ropes of our make-believe submarine. "All clear, Captain," White Fang would report. I was always a watcher. And did you know, Daddy, that when I watched you, you were blessed and could do no wrong?
Once, my older brother invaded my little hideaway and stole White Fang. He held him out of my reach with his long arms until I cried, disgusting him by "being such a girl." Always was, always will be. Try and stop me.
So, I stole away to a different spot in the yard, and brought my puppets, Pretty Horse and Charlie Boy, with me. My grandmother had made them. They were gray felt with black yarn manes. Together, we made a world, until, looking up, we saw that the yard was empty except for the drying porch furniture. I set my horses in their shoebox barn and went inside.
There you were, watching W.C. Fields on the den tv. He was one of the gifts you gave me, along with Buster Keaton and all the rest. I am still not quite convinced you didn't invent them personally, so that we could laugh together. Mom would walk through, take a look and shake her head, never understanding what we thought was so funny. She thought we were crazy. I watched her fill her days with never-ending chores she clearly hated, and thought that she had to be the crazy one. I swore I would be never be like her. Turning back to the movie, I decided that being Mae West looked like a lot more fun.
You brought me so many things that made me happy, Daddy. Things I still love today, like slapstick, like chocolate, like books. They, and you, will be part of my heart until the day I die. But oh, the thing about loving is that it goes hand in hand with losing. Work, ambition, secrecy, a woman, and eventually California all took you away from me. I have missed you all of my life, since then. My brother held White Fang over his head, and taught me about not being able to reach someone I loved. Eventually, I got White Fang back.
I know you didn't believe in a life after this one, Daddy. But I do. Will I find you again, like I found White Fang, one day? And this time, will you let me tell you how much I love you? Because I do, and I always have.
Happy Father's Day.