Girls And Their Fathers

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Girls and Their Fathers

My father always got teary when he opened his cards on Father's Day.  Every single year, he would look at the picture on the front, or read the sentiment inside, or see my “I love you, Daddy” inscription and his eyes would water, he’d cough a little and say “I love you too, honey” in a thick, slightly embarrassed voice.  It used to make me feel bad.  I didn’t want to upset him.  But The Songwriter always told me not to worry, that Daddy’s tears constituted a “good” cry, not a bad one. I suppose I understand that, for I myself rarely cry tears of sadness, but can weep buckets whenever I’m touched.  Grief tends to bring an awful silence to my soul, as if every corpuscle has been wrung dry, leaving me fragile and easily torn - like a piece of old parchment.  But beauty and goodness, kindness and love - those can make me weep.

I was fortunate in the gift of my father.  Though I’ve heard it is sometimes unusual for men of his generation to be so forthcoming, Daddy was never shy about telling me he loved me.  At the end of every phone call or visit, from the time I was little to the last day he lived, he would let me know how he felt about me.  I never once doubted his love.  If a girl is lucky enough to have a loving father, it makes it so much easier to find a good man to marry.  We have seen the template.  We have been valued too much to settle for someone who doesn’t adore us as much as our Dad.  

This past Sunday, Father’s Day rolled around again and, as I placed red flowers on Daddy’s grave, I remembered.  I remembered his laugh.  How he loved homemade ice cream in summer.  I remembered our trips to the beach when I was little and how he could never put up a Christmas tree without getting mad at his inability to make it stand straight.  I remembered how proud he was of his gardens and how he considered it to be the ultimate compliment when a well-dressed neighbor once stopped her car and waved him over to see if she could hire him.  (Due to his muddy appearance, she took him for the gardener, a mistake that totally mortified my mother and delighted my father no end.)  I remembered how much he used to love to hear The Songwriter in concert, and how crazy he was about Edward and Apple.
And there on the hot, sunny hillside, it was now my turn to get teary. 
 But it was a “good” cry.

"There's something like a line of gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to  pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself."
John Gregory Brown
From,  Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, 1994

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