Thursday, April 17, 2014

MY FATHER'S BIRTHDAY


Today is my father's birthday. He was born in 1908, on a humble farm in the rugged and hauntingly beautiful mountains of eastern Kentucky. 

Dad would have enjoyed this day…it's sunny and warm, and everywhere spring is bursting at the seams with birdsong, dozens of wildflowers, and the vernal season's emerging greenery. The river is full and a bit discolored, but I'll bet my father would be thinking about us going bullhead fishing, and perhaps gathering a mess of dandelion greens to cook with our supper fillets afterwards.

God, how I'd love to do that with him one more time…. 

I fear to imagine where my life be without Dad's unstinting love and wise guidance. He taught me to value and live with courage, honor, and compassion; he introduced me to the beauty of nature and the delight of outdoor adventures; he gave me the freedom and encouragement to follow my calling; and he led me to realize that a worthwhile life needs a spiritual center.

The older I get, the more I treasure his hand in my raising. 

Dad loved me with all his heart. I never doubted that fact for a single moment, even when we were at odds over something. And I always did my level best to love him back.   

It has been nearly thirty-one years since my father passed away. Time has barely dulled that pain's sharp edges; the aching void remains. There's not a day goes by during which I fail to think of him—to wish I could show him something or ask a question.

Yet more than anything, I'd like to be able to simply put my arms around my father, give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek, and tell him how very much he meant to me.

To say, "Happy birthday, Dad! I love you, always. And I know, too, that God never blessed anyone with a better father…a gift for which I'm so very thankful. "

20 comments:

Gail said...

Oh Grizz - your beautiful words are such a tribute to your Father and what he meant to you, and you to him. I felt every sentiment deeply. I understand it all - I do.
Love Gail
peace

p.s. I emailed you last week and re-sent it today - hopin
g all is ok.

Arija said...

Grizz, I understand completely, I feel the same way about my mother who passes away almost 28 years ago. Not a day passes when we wish that she could see something or say 'Oma would have loved this'.

Keeping those happy thoughts makes us better people.
A very Happy Easter on the river bank.

Momcat said...

Sitting at home wondering what is wrong with my muffler and wondering if it will get me to work...saw your blog entry and my heart goes out to you ..feel the same way about my mom. who passed on at the age of 90 in 2007. You are right ... that pain in the heart never goes away, just dulls enough that you cam smile at memories, I guess.

Your father must have been really very, very special.He nurtured a very good man!

Debbie said...

What a blessing to have been raised by a wise loving father. We don't hear or see that too much nowadays. I envy your testimony. My dad would have been 100 years old this past Christmas day though he's been gone for 9 years now. My parents divorced when I was 8 and I saw him once or twice a year till I was older. My life was often a struggle without a father, and I'm glad someone finally told me I had a heavenly Father. He's never let me down. I'm the one that told my dad the importance of a spiritual life, but he just said talking about things like that made him uncomfortable, so I let it slide. I loved him and I still miss him. Thank you for sharing your thoughts today about that wonderful man who was your dad. I believe he would be equally proud of his son.

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

Yes, I know you well enough to have no doubt you understand. Thank you…and fear not, I will be answering your email later today. Happy Easter!

Grizz………… said...

Arija…

Indeed, being three decades older, and if not somewhat wise, at least more experienced, there are so many things I'd now love to share and discuss with my father. But earthly life is a one-way journey, leaving only memories and comfort in its wake…and our only hope for more in the message of Easter.

Happy Easter from the riverbank.

Grizz………… said...

Momcat…

Mom was in her mid-90s when she passed away a few years ago, but my father was just 75…so I didn't have nearly the time with him. At least not time when I was what I'd like to think of myself as having managed to at least partially become—a more mature, less self-focused, frivolous, live-in-the-moment, adventure-crazed adult. Dad had one of the finest minds of anyone I've ever encountered—and I don't say that simply because he was my father. He was simply one of the smartest, wisest (not the same thing) individuals I've ever met. And I'd give anything to be able to discuss so many things with him.

The pain of death is sharp, an immediate, awful blow that washes over you like a black wave. But in some ways, that's easier to deal with than what's left—an unfillable hole in your life, and a deep and weighty sadness. When it's a parent, it's a loss of blood and first-hand memory, yours and theirs. They, more than anyone else ever can or will, knew you when your life began; intimate knowledge from a literal creation level. They are part of you and you of them. There is no substitute, no stand-in. And perhaps, being an only child, all this loss becomes more acute.

Life, some days, seems little more than a terrible victory…

Momcat said...

Grizz - Sounds like you and I are in the same pensive kind of mood today, kind of inward?

I miss my family so much, and it is worse on the holidays -- Mom, Dad and Bro Paul especially. Paul and I were going to do a lot together "when we were older." And with my best friend and family not in Hillsboro now, but back in NY state,there aren't that many places I want to be on the holiday. Thank God for sweet kitties .. one will be my muse for me this weekend when I write (Yes, I promise I will.)

Life will seem beautiful again, I am sure, so take heart,OK?

Your soulful words about death are beautifully elegant. I want to remember them.

Grizz………… said...

Debbie…

The older I get, the greater my appreciation and thankfulness to God for the gift of truly wonderful parents. What blessings they both were in my life and to my life. Their impact is immeasurable. There's still not a day passes that I fail to recognize them in me. I only wish it were more so.

I feel so sorry for you in that respect—not having your father in your life for so long, and never really knowing him in the way you needed…or later, being able to share spiritually. I know you miss that terribly.

Unlike so many father/son relationships you hear about—the norm, really, I guess—Dad and I never clashed to the point of being on bad terms or estranged. Oh, we had disagreements, arguments. When need be—which was almost daily in my youth—he gave me a dressing-down I'm-the-boss lecture, or administered corporeal punishment with a few serious swats to the backside. Whichever was needed. But he was fair, and always made sure it was deserved. Which it was, invariably. Justice was just. Trust me, I was a real handful—stubborn, self-assured, willing to trade a certain amount of pain and discomfort for the pleasure of independence…and equally willing to lie, sneak, or blame others if I thought it might help my cause when worst came to worst. Dad was like a blue-eyed truth detector with a short fuse, and unlike my mother, I couldn't defuse the situation by getting him tickled. But I never held a grudge and never confused parental discipline for a lack of love. I didn't doubt for a moment that he cared with all his heart for me and had my welfare—current and future—in mind even in the midst of our conflict. So I always respected, always loved my father. And Dad always took genuine pride in my accomplishments, great or small, and encourage or helped me with whatever he could right up until the day he died.

He was, indeed, a very special and wonderful man.

Grizz………… said...

Momcat…

Pensive? Yes, I suppose that's accurate—not just for today, but for several weeks now; maybe several months. Life is still beautiful, but also so poignantly bittersweet. Hope lies in spring's vernal promise and Easter's empty tomb.

Momcat said...

Wow - This blog really makes one think. Speaking of Dads ... I wish mine had spoken even once the magic words, "You can do anything you want to do in life." He didn't talk much at all. Luckily, my mom was a champion of both her kids, starting us out with the love of books, music and animals ... and the colorful beauty of plants ... my favorite things. Oh, yes, and a love of drama, which sometimes can get you in trouble!!
Anyway, that makes her my hero.
OK, enough self-divulgence for me for one day! It isn't easy for me to do...

The Weaver of Grass said...

I feel like this about my father too Grizz. I think the older one gets the more one appreciates one#s parents. Mine gave me so much love and care.

Grizz………… said...

Momcat…

Neither of my parents ever discouraged or stood in the way of my hopes and dreams and aspirations; quite the contrary…they championed my endeavors, helped in any way they could, and celebrated my successes. I never felt like I had any limits on my life—believing always that I could be whatever I wanted to be, accomplish whatever I set out to achieve. I know now how very much their pride and encouragement contributed to my life. There's a big difference between an inflated ego and the self-confidence of believing that work, skill, and endurance will overcome. And a college degree or fancy job title is no substitute. To believe in yourself, have faith in your abilities, is almost always the deciding factor in reaching a goal—especially if you set your goals high. Mom and Dad gave me the strength of self worth and the freedom of an open path…wonderful, amazing gifts!

Grizz………… said...

Weaver…

I know exactly—and my gratefulness and appreciation of the gifts they gave me become ever more apparent. The fundamental gift being love.

Funny how aging allows you to see the obvious.

Momcat said...

Yes, getting older (even tho I feel about 45!) opens your eyes to so many things in life, even things you never knew about yourself and others ... good things, interesting things ... and discovering things you never even knew you wanted in life ... Anybody have that experience?

Happy Easter!

Gail said...

Happy Easter to you - looking forward to your email
Love, Gail
peace.....

Grizz………… said...

Momcat…

I have that experience every single day! The older I get, the more I understand how stupid I've been all my life. Quite the revelation!

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

I haven't forgotten you…just haven't managed to get that email off yet. But I will! :-)

Happy Easter!

Momcat said...

So... that means you are smarter now? (Couldn't resist asking:)

Grizz………… said...

Momcat…

Same IQ, but better informed if not wiser. Like looking in the mirror with the benefit of keener eyesight and brighter lighting.