I'm far from my father this day, so I've sent an e-card from the inimitable Jacquie Lawson. Yes, squishy and sentimental and English. I get a kick out of them.

For an altogether different take (not squishy, not sentimental, but delightful and provocative) on older men (and while we're in book lending mode) read The View from Eighty by Malcolm Cowley.

I'm honoring Father's Day by reading other posts by sons, daughters, and fathers. My friend Dr. Patricia Yarberry Allen, one of the women to whom I dedicated Slow Love, has written a powerful essay about her estrangement from a father who was traumatized by World War II. Pat grew up in Kentucky, as did my father.

I also very much enjoyed The Psychoanalyst's Daughter by Roz Warren. My father had no time for psychoanalysis of any sort; if something was wrong, he'd volunteer his usual fix: "I'll chop it off." (He was a surgeon.) That teaches you to fix your own problems pretty quickly.

Joe Romm, who runs Climate Progress, which is one of the few publications (online) I read every single day, religiously, has written a post called "Daddy, Could We Have Our Planet Back Now?" My dad is the person who taught me about the natural world; he's the one who took me out under the night sky to name the constellations. He took me fishing, and canoeing, and taught me to swim. He could throw back his head, make a cawing call deep in his throat, and bring in thick flocks of crows; he taught me to call doves by whistling through my thumbs into a cavity made by my hands, and he helped me grow my first sunflower. So I'm with Joe. Let's think about the world we are giving our children.

My friend and colleague at Moms Clean Air Force wrote a piece about her father that started with the song, "You are my sunshine," and that brought me to tears when I read it this morning, because that's one of the first songs I remember my dad singing to me. I think I'll phone him again and see if he'll sing it to me today....He taught me to waltz; he and his sister were champion jitterbuggers, and they taught us the Charleston. So, along with my mother, my dad put music in my blood.

And I loved this essay by Chris of Rude Cactus, from Mommybloggers, in which he wrote: "One of the more important [responsibilities of a dad] is helping kids hold on to their sense of wonder. Like my dad did for me, through a simple, nondescript box, tucked away in a dresser." It made me think about my father's box full of silver quarters, hidden in a drawer under a pile of beautifully ironed white handkerchiefs. (I say so because it was most likely my sister and I who had ironed them; we weren't allowed to do his shirts for years. Thank goodness. Those sleeves were a nightmare.) I stole many silver quarters from that box. Sorry, daddy.

It is incredible how many of us share similar memories of our parents. And now my sons root through the small boxes and drawers and photo albums, looking for clues to who I am. And I watch them, wondering what kind of fathers they will someday be.


quintessence said...

I read Pat's poignant essay - powerful indeed. My father was also a product of devastating WWII experiences. And Pat's and my mother were very similar - and distant friends. Both my parents were perfect examples of "greatest generation". I try and look at these other suggestions. Unfortunately ironing is on the dreaded to-do list today!!

david terry said...

Oh... (and for whatever it's worth?), I just, this morning, posted this on my face-book page:

"In a few minutes I'm going to telephone the man who, for decades & whenever he's encountered complaints, has been fond of the phrase "Well, you got to admit, _____ is like sex and cornbread; even when they're 'bad', they're still pretty good." That phrase of my Father's is one of those gifts that just keeps on giving. And, yes, I'm aware that I look STARTLINGLY just-like him. Recently, I momentarily wondered why he was in a picture taken in Herve's parents' living room, and then I realized it was a picture of me. No kidding or exagerration, for once."

The only thing I'd add, on this Father's Day, is an exchange between a father and his middle-aged son...during some exchange during which the son claims that he "just" wants "to UNDERSTAND" the man.....

I can't, for the life of me, recall which southern author wrote this scene, but?...the father replies

"Son? you don't have to 'understand' me....because, one of these days, you're going to turn around and just BE me...."

That's very funny and, for better or worse, very true in most cases.


David Terry

Thea said...

David, many wise words this morning. thank you! I look at my own shoulders and hands and they are the same as my father's. He was a bit of a roustabout and scapegrace when we were young. But when he finally settled down around age 60 (me poor mum) I realized he is an incredibly kind, generous and wise person, given to doing good deeds in secret. He can talk to anyone and find common ground. It's a gift he gave to me, and my youngest son has it as well. We need buttons that say 'I talk to strangers' - Have a Happy Father's Day, everyone!

Anonymous said...

I had to smile at your comment about your father's offer to " chop it off." My Dad used to make the same offer - he was a rural man, first a farmer, and then a gardener.

Violet Cadburry said...

My father taught me "don't take no gruff." Has served me well.

Lines of Beauty said...

Dominique, I thought you'd enjoy this piece I wrote about my dad:

Anonymous said...

If you like ecards, you can also check out the artistic animated ecards from ojolie.com!

- M.

c said...

The one liner I vividly remember my father uttering to me, her first born, was "don't get too old so soon".

Wise man. I was barely 22 and announced my first pregnancy.

Happy father's day dad ... I know you are looking out for us from way above.

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

My dad suffered from WWII anxities, but was able to lead a fairly normal life, as long as he stayed close to home. I recall only one out of state vacation my entire growing up. I didn't know then, but now so much makes sense. I remember rifling through the drawers--I ironed his handkerchiefs too! My dad kept a collection of silver dollars in his sock drawer. One day he discovered they had disappeared--No, my sister and I didn't take them. We finally decided that the housekeeper who had 7 children to support probably took them.

Warren said...

Great post that reminds me of my own demons and struggles with my father. I spent 22 years rebelling against him. The next 20 or so longing for a connection with him (recovering for what I thought was a life of no hugs as a kid). Then trying to parent like a kinder, gentler version of him. Ah, wisdom. Now I can only laugh as I see my youngest daughter box against me. I try and explain it is the scene and not her, but it doesn't connect.

Amazing that your wonderful post only garnered nine posts. That and your eco-ruminations. I should go back and count.

Coming to Seattle anytime?