Love In Its Own Good Time
On the occasion of your 80th birthday, Dad, I sit to write you. There’s so much to say, and yet so little. First and foremost, I want to say how fortunate I feel for having you as my father, and for so much longer than you had yours! There was a time (do all children do this? I don’t know) that I wished for another father. If you ever felt that from me, I regret it. And I make it my business today to say that I am grateful and certain you have been the perfect father for me.
During a writing session with my students several months ago, I found myself writing thanks to you. (I mentioned this writing when you were in the hospital, said I wanted to share it with you.) The writing was nothing special; I have thought I would ‘make it into something’. I don’t want to make it into something. I want to just say what turned up, because it was a revelation: revelatory. The sequence went like this:
First of all, he gave me life. My stature, which I’ve come to love--and lately, come to flaunt. He gave me thick hair, a natural wave enhanced by damp or muggy weather. He gave me hazel eyes, and how I love the changeability of that: no same same brown for me! He gave me this daily surprise, this mystery. And my widow’s peak, another mark of distinction. And no doubt, my creativity... My god! My father gave me my creativity, that quality which I value most of all. That aspect of me, of life, that enlivens me--how many times a day? That essential that keeps me youthful, vital, continuously challenged. For too long I have cheated him of thanks. This can’t go on much longer—soon, it may be too late. He gave me fearlessness. To take something apart with the confidence that I can put it all back together again. He gave me a healthy respect for alcohol, sufficient not to be cast in its spell. He gave me beauty, the love of words, and ingenuity--the capacity to figure anything out, to conceive creative solutions. Creative: you see? There it is again. Inventive, inventor, he gave me a sharp and intrepid mind, unafraid to wander into unknown parts to find a resolution. I am woven with this thread, this inheritance, and so I fashion from infinity each day a new creation.
As I said, nothing special, as far as the writing goes. But what’s in there I wanted you to know.
For so long, for too too long, I focused on whatever in life I wasn’t happy about. Dad sawing up the Christmas tree, Mom hitting and hollering at me, friends “ditching” me. I thought I needed a better father, a better—at least different—mother, or better friends. But what I really needed, and finally got, was a better point of view.
To always see the good: I’d seen people do this. But to live that way?!
Well, that is Love’s way, and part of the story of “Love’s Freeway,” my newest creative (ad)venture. It is my idea of a beautiful way to live. And my intention.
I am eternally grateful for all my involvements and reading and such that have woken me up. That have smartened me up, you might say. Particularly when it comes to you and our relationship, which has come so far in the past—well, I’d say five years, especially. I do regret, and deeply, Dad, any time or any way that I ever left you feeling anything less than the best. Seeing the good in you makes me see (and sad) that in focusing on the “bad” for so long, I cheated myself of a lot of good that was right there sitting beside it. So many people tried for so long to love me—you perhaps chief among them—and I wouldn’t permit it. I was too intent upon, too busy grinding my axe.
Well, I have no more axes to grind—not with you or with anyone else. I am a happy—joyful—and fine person who knows well now (at last!) how to love and how to receive love, right to the bottom of my heart. There’s nothing more meaningful, nothing more joyful, and nothing more painful!
As selfish as it is, I’d like my parents to live forever. We treat you like you’ll both be around forever. And you will be, but not in body. As you’re all too aware of late, the body has a limited “shelf life.” Every day and month and year I’ve had to love you both, especially since this opening of my heart, since this “smartening up,” has been a priceless gift. I’m sad I wasn’t able to do it sooner. It makes me greedy for more – for forever, say! I know I can’t have that, and I wouldn’t want to keep you from your Glory. But whenever it is that you must go, please tell me you won’t have a speck of doubt about my love for you, and please tell me that I haven’t disappointed you. I feel I could’ve been a much better daughter to you, over all those years of looking past the good. There’s no getting those years back. But to my eye, what’s REALLY GOOD is that we’ve both—all—lived long enough to make it here. Here to know and to feel love that always was and always will be. Here to say: Dad, I couldn’t have wished for a better father than you for me. Here to say: Dad, thank you for giving me my life, my creative passion, my ingenuity, my beauty, my stature, my great hair, my widow’s peak! Here to say that whether I’m with you or not, whether we’re talking or not, I’ll be loving you to pieces every minute of the rest of your life. Well, and mine too, for that matter.
Happy birthday, Daddy-o. You’re the best.