Monday, June 19, 2006

To My Dad

"Sherman made the terrible discovery that men make about their fathers sooner or later...that the man before him was not an aging father but a boy, a boy much like himself, a boy who grew up and had a child of his own and, as best he could, out of a sense of duty and, perhaps love, adopted a role called 'Being a Father' so that his child would have something mythical and infinitely important: a Protector, who would keep a lid on all the chaotic and catastrophic possibilities of life." - Tom Wolfe, from The Bonfire of the Vanities

Dear Dad,
I read the quote above and thought of you. Specifically, I thought of the dichotomy of you: what you are, and how I view you.

As I have grown older, and had a son of my own, I have seen in my own self the little boy that I was once. What a scary thing it is to see your son through the eyes of the seven year old I was at one time. Even though he is not me, there is me in him. It is there in a movement, or a phrase, or just the way he plays. I imagine there was a time when you did the same to me.

If I look at my son that way, and you looked at me that way, then am I nothing more than you, repeating an endless cycle of life? That is a thought both depressing and pleasant. All men would like to hope we are something greater than we are, that we are somehow unique. While all men are unique in many little ways, the main ways which pass from generation to generation remain unaltered within a family tree. In essence, immortality.

When we spoke the other day, you talked about how you were going through some of your old stuff and trying to imagine what I would do with it after you are gone. If I would throw it away, you decided you would go ahead and get rid of it. I would say this to you: Keep the stuff that is part of our immortal essence. Do not think of it as losing yourself. Think of it as keeping what will last forever.

If you find that you have nothing left, then you will understand that what is truly important about you has already been shared with me, as I have already shared it with my children.

But do not despair. This just means you have fulfilled your role as protector of our immortal essence. I hope that I serve in this role as well as you have, and as well as you do!

Thank you Dad! I love you!


Bill McGonigal said...

From your Dad; Your message is thought provoking. I have often said that I am still the same person inside that I have always been even though aging. We need to keep on teaching our children (grandchildren) about the importance of values and the grace of God to each of us. I love you, Dad

EdMcGon said...

Thanks Dad!