Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Earthly



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.

5 comments:

Tai said...

Thank you, Katherine. This post is beautiful, and so true. It brings me much happiness to imagine my father somewhere, working on new projects and writing new books. Death is not just an ending.

Mare said...

From what you have told us of your Father, i wouldn't be surprised if he is out there in the ethers, painting the sunrises and sunsets for you! Once an artist, always an artist...

coloredsock said...

you write so beautifully what is in your heart, shepherd girl! seems like with your father's leaving came a rebirth of him, not only in his own journey but also in this earthly realm--in your stories and memories and love. thinkin of you! xoj

Anonymous said...

I lost my dad in November 1999, and I wasn't sure I could bear that first Father's Day without him. I hated the cards, the signs in stores, every reminder that the entire country was celebrating something I no longer could celebrate. And it hasn't gotten all that better in the years that have passed, though I now can offer more comfort to friends who are going through it for the first time, themselves. In my case, my father lives on in my love of gardening and the outdoors, my ability to fix things, in the shapes of the palms of my hands, the way I sit sideways on a kitchen chair, my impatience, my gray hair, my love for adventure and traveling ... so many things that make my mom look at me and say, "You could never deny who your father was." Despite my unhappiness with Father's Day, time does bring peace, and Katherine, you will find that while you'll likely miss him more as time goes on, you'll also realize more and more gifts you received as his daughter. And that will bring you great, great comfort. I promise.

jimmer said...

That's a 48 star flag, of course. Your father is in your heart, and that's the best sort of stool to sit upon and look out across the world--yours and his....

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~