Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day: His Spirit Lives On

Last year was the first Father’s Day without my dad who passed away early in 2012.  I thought about him frequently that Father’s Day, conscious of his absence.  All the Father’s Day marketing felt like a disturbance in my universe.

This year I find myself reflecting on memories of my dad.  I can still picture my dad pretty clearly.  I can hear his voice with a bit of gravel in it. “Don’t let the bastards get you down,” he says.  I think about his drive even long after his body had ceased to support it.  My mother and I have chuckled over the idea that perhaps he inhabits the spirit of her cat, her new and beloved companion.  Her cat sleeps on Dad’s side of the bed, uses his bathroom, greets my mother each morning and brings her the comfort of a companion far less demanding than my dad ever was.

I have come to appreciate over this past year how much of my father’s spirit inhabits me.  To my mother’s frequent refrain of “You’re your father’s daughter” I reply, “I hope I just got the good stuff”.  We are all a mixed bag and the qualities that help us achieve in the world are often the very qualities that can make us difficult to live with.   No doubt I got both sides of the coin with a bit of my mother hopefully to soften the edges just as she did in our family life.

I think of my father when I write and words flow, a gift he possessed.  And I especially think of him when I write a letter to a company to protest their handling of a matter.  My father was not one to suffer in silence and with a gift for words, he could voice his displeasure with some eloquence and often humor.  I chuckled at letters I discovered on his old computer after his death, again recognizing much of myself within them.  

I think of my father when I perform an exacting task.  He kept meticulous inventories of stamps in his tiny script.  As a child I watched him pour over his stamp collection with a focus that I now recognize in myself when I research family history.  With his inventories of books, videos and stamps filling his computers I conclude that number counting too is genetic.  Perhaps it is a way to exert some measure of control over the world.  If so, I possess that trait in common with my father.

And I think of my father when I look around my office, with its layer of clutter (this is the not so good stuff).  It is the clinging to information, inquiring minds want to know, I might need it someday gene.  The New York Times articles that he had torn out because the subject interested him, also interested me as I waded through his office after his death.  We shared an interest and curiosity in many things.

So on this second Father’s Day without my Dad, I realize that his spirit does indeed live on.  Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

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