Sunday, June 15, 2008
In honor of Flag Day and Father's Day, I share this photograph with you. The little child is my father, circa 1927.
It is my first father's day without a father. He's here, of course, in many other forms. My face, my profile, my artistic heart. But he is gone.'Letting go' is an individual project. Sometimes we are challenged to do it in an instant, like the family of the Boy Scouts whose young sons were recently killed by a tornado. Sometimes we are asked to do it in a manner that just doesn't make sense, like when a mother dies too young. And sometimes we have time to prepare, we think, as when an older person finally leaves the earth. But there is no preparation. No matter how it goes down, death presents the living with a new perspective on their own life.
My life is richer because of the life of my father, but also because of his death. The death of a parent leaves a space, and the grown child -adult must fill it from within. And filling from within without any one's approval is the essence of maturity, and from it comes deep satisfaction, peace and gratitude.
I get comfort in the most unexpected moments. The smell of Old Spice deodorant, which he wore when I was a child, and which I still wear to this day. There are two small flecks of him still left in the front garden. He had a stubborn side, and perhaps he too is not quite ready to 'let go' of earthly delights. The latter musing is something I doubt in my heart. I truly believe he is on to a huge place, where he is working at new things. Earthly delights are just that - earthly.