Remembering Dad

Imbolc                           Waxing Wild Moon

The year moves forward, sun higher in the sky, temperatures inching upward, some snow melting, though  piles of slowly melting hard pack, driven to curbs and driveway ends, darkens and begrimes the landscape.  A bright February sun catches a light snowfall, refracts it in mid-air, giving the day a sparkle, as if a glitter queen shook her hair in the heavens.

The winter olympics continues, too, with this sport and that.  I liked ski cross.  It looked fun.

Today is the anniversary of my father’s death in 2003.  The dead, to paraphrase somebody, are not in the past;  they’re not even dead.  No, nothing metaphysical here, I’m referring to the fact that those important to us take up lodging in our memories, in our inflections and in our perspectives.  We sometimes see the world literally through their eyes, hear things with their ears, interpret something with their sensibilities.  This happens during their lives, of course, but it also continues on past their temporal death.

(The Woolworth Building.  It opened twelve days after dad’s birth.  It was the tallest building in the world until 1930.)

If I see a  person with too much flab (me, these days, for instance), I can hear Dad say, “He likes his groceries.”  In quick train there is, too, his advise about weight loss, “Push-ups.  Push ups away from the table.”  I can feel his scowl when pictures from the sixties appear in the newspaper or on tv.  He didn’t think much of the politics or the movement persons of those days.  Unfortunately for our relationship, I was one.

When I sit down to write, especially here, I feel the ghost of my father, Curtis, hovering over my shoulder.  He is a benign angel in this case.  I fancy my writing style here takes a certain amount of its defnition from his frequent  column, “Small Town, USA.”  When I’m in the other room, working on the novel, I’m reminded of his ambition to charter a boat, sail the coast of Mexico, then write a book about the trip.  He never made it, WW II got in the way.  He never wrote a book either.

So, according to one school of Jungian thought, I write books to fulfill my father’s dream.

He was a man of his times, liberal in his  social politics, virulently anti-communist and suspicious of both patriotic zealots like the John Birch Society and the anti-patriots like myself of the 60’s and 70’s.  His father abandoned his family, Dad never did.  He was there, day in day out.

So, his body no longer walks the earth, but his mind, his dreams, his biases and his humor still does.

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