Sunday, June 19, 2005

Thoughts on a Father's Day

I am not rich. That would be overkill. Compensation is for those who are lacking. I am not one of those.

When it comes to all other joys, my cup runneth over. Chief among my joys are my gentle and wondrous parents, who have been an education and an inspiration for as long as I can remember. Their partnership has been so strong for so long, it is hard to separate them out. They are like a force. For good, I might add. When they were travelling around China and the Soviet Union studying medical practices, for instance, I had the feeling that the people they encountered felt better about Americans just from having seen intellectually curious, non-arrogant, normal folks. And the smiles they said they encountered were surely a healing medicine, as were the stories they brought back.

Now in his 80s, Papa rarely if ever hears that he reminds anyone of Gregory Peck or a brown-eyed Paul Newman, although an occasional Prince Ranier might be as one of the eternally youthful souls, he might be taken aback by such camparisons. But like these fine folks, Dad was and is always the gentleman. I suppose I could count the times he raised his voice in anger on one hand, or a couple of fingers. I wish I had his patience.

I'm reminded of my first day at high school. It was the first year of busing, and I was assigned to a formerly all-black high school across town...and many people were panicking to get re-assigned. Some moved, some merely said they moved. All in order stay in whiteville, so to speak. At our house, there was no panic. Of course I would go, and when the time came, I was the only kid on my bus. It apparently made national news.

As years passed, I would often bring home friends from different religions, cultures, countries, and never did they show xenophobia, and rarely did my friends fail to form a bond of affection for the old dears. And as more years passed, "the folks" (as they are called) would plop themselves down in strange environs, and be treated with equal acceptance, while I was beginning to explore America.

It is interesting to note that many of those who moved to avoid busing, went on to live similarly sheltered lives, and in some cases, still live in a sphere no bigger than a few streets.

I could go on, so I will. But right now I just want to thank my father for being exactly as he is. And acknowledge all good fathers living and past. There is a reason why our elders are called The Greatest Generation. We have big shoes to fill, tall shoulders to stand on. May we have the wisdom to learn their best lessons.

Love ya, Papa! Always have. Always will.