Sunday, June 15, 2003

My Father: A Legacy

A father’s legacy is a wondrous thing; I think I notice it more now that I am a father, too. But I don’t own father’s day. I still think of it as something between my father and me. So while the baby naps with her mother I put on some of the Father’s Day CDs my father sent me this week, and spent some time thinking about the things my father and I have between us.

When I listen to music sometimes everything comes together just right and I am in the music and it is in me. Also, I can recognize almost any singer’s voice on the radio before the DJ tells us who is singing.

My father used to play this game called “do YOU have the tickets?” Usually, he was just stalling for time while he checked to make sure he had them, but once when we were going to a baseball game he didn’t have them, and we had to go back. I remember they were on his dresser, right where he left them. I do that all the time.

You can learn a lot from a guy with a six foot long closet. I like clothes, and I know how to make them look good. I know color, for example, and I know not to iron directly on silk. It’s less an issue of knowing men’s fashion, and more like knowing what looks good on you, in the context of a deep appreciation for the social settings in which an outfit is appropriate, and what message it sends. I guess most guys learn how to dress from their fathers, but what I'm saying is, when I get dressed, I feel like I'm doing it right.

My father is the perfect host. I think there’s a connection there between the way he wears his clothes and the way he wears a party, but if there is, it’s indescribable. Still, any social comfort I have comes from him.

Sometimes when one of my father’s old friends meets me for the first time, or for the first time in a very long time, they say how much I look like him when he was my age, and we sort of grin, and don’t know what else to say, because what do you say when people say that? But it feels really good anyway.

When my daughter was born, I started a list of things I wanted to do with her. Here’s the list:

· Take her deep sea fishing. Wake her up before it’s light with no previous warning; leave note for Darcie. Make pb&j sandwiches to eat in the car.
· Go to a Baseball game. Get there early to see batting practice. Eat too much.
· Spend the night on our backs in a field watching a meteor shower.
· Go to the airport to watch planes take off.
· Set up a camera so we can see ourselves live on TV. Do a news show; tape it and send it to grandparents.
· Teach her to sing lead. Harmonize.
· Take her to her first real concert.
· Take her to Falcon Ridge and Winterhawk.
· On her birthday, have her plan a full day. Take her anywhere she wants.
· Go to the Museum of Science in Boston. See the chicks hatch. See a live animal demonstration and a lightning show. Play with bubbles, water, blocks and other stuff. Don’t forget to bring earplugs for everyone.
· Imax movie.
· Planetarium.
· Aquarium, especially penguins and hands-on starfish.
· Beach at low tide; tide pools.
· Tour of McDonalds
· Tour of a farm.
· Go to Grandma Martha’s gravesite. Tell her about Martha.
· Show her how to track her own genealogy. Make a family tree.
· Show her that if you cut a worm in half, it turns into two worms.
· Plant a garden. Grow tomatoes, beans, and carrots. Make a salad.
· Take her to New York City. Show her ground zero. Show her how alive NYC is.
· Take the train somewhere. Get a sleeper car. Live, moving, just to show her it can be done.
· Teach her that not all who wander are lost.
· Drive South in late May; watch it go from winter to spring as we go south. On the drive back, watch it turn back into Winter.
· Make banana bread.
· Make dinner for Mommy.
· Be generous.
· Teach generosity.

It’s a great list, but I can’t take credit for most of it. With a few exceptions, it’s just a list of things my father used to do with me when I was little. Sometimes when I look at this list it’s a little intimidating to imagine myself forging anything better in my own style. Most of the time I’m just really, really grateful.

I hope my own father will keep us company on some of these outings. Yet even if he can’t make it sometimes, somehow, no matter what we do together, I know that my own father will be with us. As he is somehow always with me, watching out for me, watching over me. Thanks, Dad. I love you, too.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:57 PM |

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