Dad


hand-painted silk neckties, 1985
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My father died when he was 51.

He had this whole secret life at General Motors where he bossed a good number of people around.

And they let him I think because he was good at it, they probably liked and respected him and they needed their job.

That was his very private and unknown-to-us life.

Nice suits, 5′ tall nude woman sculpture in his giant, glassy office and the run of basement to top floor of the many- acred tech center spread.

The one day we kids were privy to this part of our father was on children’s day when we visited him there and sat terrified in the executive dining room for lunch as he awkwardly introduced his offspring to friends.

It pains me to think about it.

He sure looked the part in the glossy hallways there.

But I didn’t recognize the guy.

For me, I knew him catching minnows with us at the lake.

And making a real wooden red sailboat from scratch on which I spent many hours afloat.

Carving a too fast saucer run for us in the frigid air after a snowstorm,

And drunkenly waiting until he could go to work the next day.

I loved him.

And I knew he loved me.

But it was very quiet parenting he did.

More show-and-tell.

And because I was enchanted with power tools and turpentine and sawdust, he tolerated my tentative shadowing of him.

I would follow him to the workshop and he’d make stuff like enameled copper boxes or cast a fish in plaster from the creek below our house.

But something was eating him from the inside out and he kept it so quiet but I knew.

I didn’t know the thing’s name as I was so young but I was smart enough to see his unhappiness.

And so I was glad he had the secret world of General Motors to shine in.

And shiny he was.

I think he died of a broken heart because he spent a lifetime managing artists when what he really wanted to do was be one.

Living inauthentically takes it’s toll.

The legacy he left me is fearlessness around power.

Tools, people, big and scary corporate dealings, too- nice suit jackets and men in huddles.

He also left me the simple love of working with my hands.

He helped me become confident in my approach to life as a sensitive and creative being.

He inadvertently showed me the edge of madness.

That thing that happens when no one sees the real you.

And so… my life has been one of a collector; I find those in whose eyes I can see myself clearly, honestly and truly.

And I keep them close.

And closer still.

And I walk on with the solace of their gait beside me; barely but very surely there.

comments

2 Responses to “Dad”

  1. Pwhiitng on August 26th, 2010

    Your writing is powerful poetic, loving, and, yes, painfilled.
    We need to find you a publisher…

    Aug 26 2010

    pls try to watch the full as it rise tomorrow when it will be shadowed by
    Mars (?). astronomers can’t seem to agree when this happened before

    my dearest love to you

  2. Judy on August 26th, 2010

    Beautiful description of an awesome legacy.

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