Sunday, 19 June 2011

Dear Father...

 A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen.  ~Edward de Bono

I’m listening to Neil Diamond’s “Dear Father” from Jonathan Livingston Seagull right now. Seems appropriate.  

I guess you know today is Father’s Day, Daddy. And, oh God, I still have to remind myself that you aren’t here to celebrate it.

Before you tell me you’re in a better place, I do know that. I find comfort in that. Comfort in the fact you’re whole, healthy. In fact, I still keep seeing visions of you at 18 years old, in the army. Before I knew you.  And I tell myself it’s really you, not just a wishful thought. It’s you, telling me you’re fine. That you don’t need your oxygen machine anymore. You can go anywhere you want now without having to lug your little portable oxygen device. And you assure me that is something I should be happy about. And I am. Believe me, Daddy, I am. 

But. Of course there is a ‘but’ to this. I went to Walmart on the way home from work the other evening, Daddy. I needed to go the card aisle to get you a Father’s Day card; and, damn it, I got hit with it—you are gone.  You are gone. No more cakes. No parties. No cards. Never again.  

I mean, really. Do you realize how hard it was to find the perfect card for you every year? You hated those schmaltzy cookie cutter cards just as much as I did. And they were not you. So my yearly mission was to find the card—the card that reflected you. And let me tell you. It was hard. Because you weren’t one of those Hallmark Daddies. You were good ol’ Daddy, plain ol’ Daddy. 

Hallmark insisted on taking the pure ol’ goodness, the ‘Daddy-ness’ away from you and turning you into an ad for Disneyland. They just didn’t get the reality of you.

I suppose I never realized it at the time, but you were so big and important—so crucial in my life—it went far beyond what any Hallmark poem could ever convey. Somehow, their sentiments seemed silly in light of your practicality, your down-to-earth existence, the humanness of you. And your brand of ‘ordinary-ness’ and steadfastness was so easily taken for granted, because it was SO constant I became to expect it—never realizing it was as essential as air which I also take in stride.

The cards were right about one thing, though, Daddy. Every single one of those pesky cards said, I don’t tell you I love you as often as I should.  How did those card writers know that most of us kids do not do that? Well, I suppose they were all kids, too? Well, they were right. I did not tell you as often as I should. Hell, looking back, I don’t suppose I told you much at all. I figured you knew, anyway. And I’m sure you did. But I bet you would have loved to have heard it more often. 

Well, we won’t have to be bothered by those irritating American Greetings anymore, will we?  

Oh, Daddy, I wish it really did make me feel better to tell myself that. That I’m glad to be relieved of that chore every year—that quest for the Ark of the Covenant of Father’s Day cards, the Holy Grail of greetings. 

But it does not. I’d gladly spend all night in stupid Walmart to find you a stupid card if you were just still here. All night, I’d look for a card. I wouldn’t care how sugary it was, how silly. If you could just be here for me to give it to you.  

Well, I’ve whined enough. Father’s Day is nearly over now. Good. So maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow and not miss you so much? Fat chance.

Daddy, I sure do miss you. I miss you so much. Didn’t get you a card. But—wherever you may be—Happy, happy Father’s Day. I love you.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

You Already Knew...

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ~Thornton Wilder

A woman I know--her name is Wendy—had been deaf since she was five years old. A while back, she underwent surgery to retrieve some of hear hearing. She still cannot hear as well as you and I. But, even with the limited world of sound which had been opened up to her, her life became an adventure in discovery. Things that you and I take for granted are awe-inspiring for Wendy.

When I saw Wendy on Wednesday evenings (she served at our church dinners), she would have something new to share about her learning experience. I was touched and immensely humbled by the beauty of ordinary life that, to her, was a new universe, bursting with audio color.

I wanted to share how Wendy’s experience touched me, and the only way I could think to do so was with this humble tribute to…Wendy. These discoveries were just a few of the discoveries that she mentioned.

You Already Knew

You already knew that
A soft drink can hisses when the tab is pulled,
A potato chip bag crinkles really loud when it’s opened,
Forks, spoons and knives clang when you open the silverware drawer,
Food makes a sizzling sound in a frying pan,
Your shoes make noise with every step you take,
Water makes a splashing sound when you pour it in a glass,
A toilet makes a swooshing sound when you flush it,
A door makes a thud when you close it.
I didn’t know that.

You already knew that
A car makes a noise when you start the engine then
Purrs as it’s running,
An airplane hums as it passes in the sky above,
A lawnmower roars as it glides over the grass,
A hammer pounding echoes loudly as it strikes a nail,
A fan buzzes as its blades turn,
A light switch makes a clicking sound when you flip it,
Scissors make noise as they cut paper,
Windows make noise when you open or close them.
I didn’t know that.

You already knew that
No two people have the same voice,
Dogs do not sound the same as cats,
Babies don’t sound like grown ups when they talk,
Different species of birds sing different songs or that birds make sounds at all,
Wind makes a soft sound when it blows through trees,
Rain makes a gentle sound when it hits the ground,
Gravel makes a crunching noise under your shoes.
I didn’t.

But the moon, sun and stars don’t make any sound after all.
I didn’t know that. But now I do.