I woke yesterday to realize that all the sorrow and self-pity that used to enshroud me around the subject of fathers had just suddenly …lifted, I think because just a few days ago I remembered a conversation I had 20 years ago with the then-pastor of Pilgrim Church in the Upham’s Corner section of Boston. This man of the cloth was telling me that a curious ‘gift of vision’ had recently arisen in him, as perplexing to him as it was to those around him. I asked him how it manifested itself.
“Well for example right now I see that there is a man standing behind you.”
The little hairs on my arms stood up.
“What does he look like?”
“He’s older,” he said. “He has wavy white hair and really bright blue eyes.”
“I know who that is.” I said. “I met him only once, when I was 19, and we spent an hour together in the bar of the DuPont Hotel in Wilmington Delaware.
“He was your father?” said this man, who knew nothing whatever about me and my life story.
“Yes,” I said.
“He looks so sad,” he said glancing over my shoulder.
“Well, he drank. He left us,” I said, feeling the old hard knot of anger for all my mother suffered as a woman alone in that era of the famously intact family
“That being the case, maybe leaving was the kindest thing he could think to do for you all.”
“Maybe,” I said but I didn’t believe it.
But now with the return to my mind of this long-buried conversation I’m seeing things in a new, more forgiving light.
Plus you know I look just like the man: Under the dye job, my colorist tells me my hair is now almost all white. God knows it’s really wavy. And just 16 weeks ago Nature served up to our entirely brown-eyed family a baby with eyes that same bright-blue as Hap Sheehy once had.
‘Time to issue the man a welcome, Terry,’ is what I thought waking up to Fathers Day yesterday.
So welcome, my poor sad terrified dad. Pull up a chair and we’ll all scootch over. It isn’t hard at all to make a circle bigger.