Happy Father's Day to all of you who are fathers. May your children bring you happiness, joy, and the occasional tie or pair of socks.
Those of you who have fathers, I hope you'll wish them a happy Father's Day, and ideally even engage with them more, have a real conversation with them. Though I know that may not be possible for some, and may not be easy for others. But for those of you who have unfinished or unresolved business with your fathers, I urge you to consider working on ways to reach a more resolved state. You never know whether any given day might be your last chance.
That's probably useless advice. If someone had given it to me four months ago, I would have ignored it. And resolution is rarely easy, and often impossible, and probably can't be achieved unilaterally anyway. But the suggestion's there, for what it's worth.
As I was thinking about writing this entry, a Libby Roderick song came up on the iTunes rotation: "Holy Thing to Love." Turns out, as far as I can tell, it's based on something by Rabbi (?) Chaim Stern:
It is a fearful thing to love what death can touch.
A fearful thing to love, hope, dream: to be—
To be, and oh! to lose.
A thing for fools, this, a holy thing,
A holy thing to love.
For your life has lived in me,
Your laugh once lifted me,
Your word was gift to me.
To remember this brings painful joy.
'Tis a human thing, love, a holy thing,
To love what death has touched.
(Not at all sure of the line breaks and various other details there; there are several versions of this on the web, which is the only place I've seen it.)
The Libby Roderick song adapts the above, and adds more verses, including this:
Have you seen how the world moves on?
Every hand we touch will go
Every face we cherish will disappear
Taking everything that we used to know
But somewhere deep inside our bones
We must be tied to the morning star
For knowing that our hearts will break
We love each other all the more
Somehow that song in this context made me think of Fred Small's "Father's Song" (lyrics). Here's the chorus (though as with most songs, I imagine it doesn't work as well without the music):
There's a man I hardly remember
Who would hold me in his arms without flinching
And tell me it's all right
I put my hands out to my father
Standing strong in the water
When I could not swim
I held on to him
It was all right.
I was talking with Kendra the other week about how parents shape us, shape our lives and personalities and hopes and fears. A great deal of who I am, I can trace to my father and mother. I think they were both freelance editors at various points; they instilled in me a love of language and a tendency toward use of reference materials. And Peter also led to me to math, to computers, to science fiction. My earliest reading of books meant for grownups was from his large science fiction collection. His reading tastes and mine later diverged—in recent years he was more interested in mysteries than sf, I think, and the sf he read was often not so much to my taste (and vice versa). But I got my start with his pulp paperbacks (he later gave me his copy of the 1975 reissue of Healy & McComas's thousand-page 1946 anthology Adventures in Time and Space) and his Delany and Le Guin.
There were other things he shaped about me as well, some positive and some less so. And I don't want everything I write about him to be a paean (Jed pauses to check MW11 to make sure that word means what he thinks it means); like all of us, he had flaws, and those were part of who he was, and they contributed toward shaping who I am (and to my own flaws). But I think that's a topic for another day.
For now, I'll close with what I so rarely managed to say to him in life: I love you, Peter, and thank you for everything.
I invite y'all readers to post about your parents, especially your fathers. In particular, I'm interested in hearing the things about your parents that did or didn't help you become who you are today. Are you growing more like your parents over time? Less? What are you grateful to them for? What would you like to say to them that you haven't yet said? Feel free to post anonymously if you like.
And if you are a parent, or hope to be, what would you like to pass along to your children? What would you want your kids to say in response to some of the above questions, twenty or thirty or forty years from now?