Southern Exposure

Ruminations of a Native Son


Greater Washington. DC., United States
February 06
Compulsive writer (mostly memoirs and sociopolitical rants), musicologist, hermeticst, fiscal conservative, radical centrist, agrarian socialist; Charter member, Factualist Party; born and raised in DC, healthcare professional, retired businessman, civic and political activist on two coasts, civil rights movement veteran. An empiricist's worst nightmare, I believe in everything but I don't believe everything, including many things I believe in. Turned down by US Army in 1966 for medical reasons, thrown out of Col. Hasan's Black Man's Army in 1967 for being "too militant." Scion of a family only Tennessee Williams could have dreamed up. There's more. There's always more.


JUNE 19, 2011 11:08AM

Dad, We Need to Talk

Rate: 11 Flag

First, since it's that day again, Happy Father's Day, Dad.

Second, and as always, I need something. It's always been that way and I'm only realizing what a needy son I've always been, how you realized it even when I didn't, when I loathed the fact you could see my weaknessness and would point them out to me -- in order that I could overcome them.

It never was easy having Superman for a father. I wanted to think maybe I was, in some way, as good, as smart and as strong as you. Eventually you told me I was, that I had been all along.

I'm not feeling that right now, and I need you to tell me "You can do this! It's a piece of cake. Just pay attention to what you're doing and don't stare at the ground/your feet/the bullseye/the wall/the girl/whatever it is you're trying to move toward. If you stare you'll lose your balance and fuck up. Then you'll just have to start all over again."


About to get an earfull

I've lost my balance, Dad, and I am pissed at myself. I need you to point out the obvious to me one more time. I've forgotten how to ride a bike or draw a straight line without a ruler or talk to a girl. I need you to pull me up off the floor like you did that night years ago when the blindfold was removed and you lifted me up -- raised me -- and we became equals in that darkened lodge hall.

I'd bring her by, this girl I can't stop staring at, to sit and talk with you and you'd charm her and tell her embarrassing stories and occasional bald-face lies about me and she'd laugh and I wouldn't get the stares and go all blank, because you'd be working the room the way you always do...did...and, well, life would actually be a little easier if you were here, despite all those years of you and me butting heads, you trying to teach me things I needed to know. Your ham-handed way of imparting wisdom may have been far from perfect, but in the end it all made a difference.

I need a refresher course on a few things. We need to talk.

You know, when I remember you it's not in a hospital room where I was reassuring you that "everything's under control" so you could leave the planet in peace. I can pull that up but I'd rather not, just as I prefer not to pull up all those tedious, predictable lectures, some of which made no sense then and still don't, but many actually do now. No, what I see when I think of you is always, first of all, the person in that darkened lodge hall, leaning forward, despite having spent a year with so little physical balance you hadn't even been able to walk, leaning forward and reaching down to lift me up off that floor, to raise me.

And now I get it. Suddenly it makes sense all over again. How'd you do that? I hate it when you make sense.

I also love it.

Thanks, Dad. Have a really nice day

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You underestimate yourself. I don't think people sit on clouds playing harps cuz that would be mighty boring after awhile but somewhere your dad read this and he is happy ;0)
This grabbed me this mornng. Months now from 60 years old and I haven't heard his voice for over a quarter century. Except sometimes in dreams it's clearand flawlessly his, not changed in any way.

With so many mistakes yet to be made, I too could use a stern "What for?" talk, but have to dredge them up and concoct them in my head now, in the voice I cannot forget.

Will you come by my place to see my re-post for Father's Day? Appreciated if you can.
Dorinda, lord no, the old man would grab the first harp he saw and go all Blutarsky on it. But thank you dear friend. Just thank you.

alsoknownas: Do I ever know what you mean. Thanks for that. Somehow the voice we remember works in our brain and we manage to synthesize what might need to be said. It sounds better that way, I think.

I'll for sure go check out your post in just a sec. Thanks again.
AJ, I can hear him speaking to you through your words. He's still giving you what for when you need it and lifting you up when you least expect it. Happy Father's Day to a wonderful son!
COS: Wow. I guess that's how it works now. Thanks for this, and a wonderful Father's Day to you, too.
Beautiful. Simply beautiful. I share most of the sentiments you express here.
Major: Thank you so much.
Your Dad is smiling right now and is still helping you more than you may know....
I think if my dad were around, and I needed advice, he'd tell me a story using hockey as a metaphor, or car repair, or one of the times he was piloting a helicopter in Vietnam and they crashed/landed and saved a bunch of people/dug friends bodies from the wreckage. Our parents see how we are and try to relate it to how they are, and who they think we should be, and who they wished they could have been. I am sure, if my dad didn't know he was my dad, and we were just having a drink, he'd say "I have no idea what I am doing, so I am just going to put on a show and hope my kid turns out ok. God, I really hope so." I bet your dad has had that in his mind more than once during one of those talks, and you have heard him.
what a fine tribute, human AND superhuman.
Here's to regaining your balance, AJ. All to keeping those great memories.
patricia k, I believe both those things. Thanks.

Oryoki Bowl, I've never looked at it that way before (what it would have been like if he never knew he was my dad) and it really helps put things into perspective. A lot. Thank you so much!

dianaani, thank you!

Lea, I think it's just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. I've had moments of failure of faith in myself before. The old man quite often seems to pop up in the dark and give me a timely smack upside the head. :)
The refresher course angle is refreshing and a wonderful photograph to boot.
Scarlett Sumac: Glad you liked that. I could use several actually. Oh, and the picture, yeah. Notice what I have in my hand there? It's a freakin' baseball. You know that wasn't going to go well. :)
Very. very touching. ~r
Joan, thanks for reading and for the comment.