Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

So, life has been busy, and it's about to get busier in the next few months. I have some topics in mind to write about later on. This entry is not about books.

Today is Father's Day, a day I don't normally give too much thought, other than wondering where the apostrophe goes (I think it's where I put it). This year, as usual, I bought a card and sent it to my dad. It's mostly a ceremonial gesture, and not doing it would be more trouble than it is to do it.

I don't hate my dad. He's a human being who's made mistakes (like me). Most of his big ones are in the distant past, and I've forgiven them. When I at long last came out to him two years ago, though, he didn't speak to me for six months. It seems to me like we've both decided to keep it cordial, and not to excavate emotions and history and all that. Sometimes people just aren't close to one or both of their parents. I get it.

So I wasn't thinking too much about today - just another silly holiday to sell barbecue aprons or whatever - and to make people who don't have fathers feel bad. But then I turned on the radio yesterday and "This American Life" was airing a Father's Day show (the show will be posted at 7:00 on Sunday evening, here: One of the stories was a remembrance by Michael Ian Black of his father, who died when he was a kid. Near the end of the story, he said something to the effect of: he didn't miss his father any less as time went by; he missed him more. And that got me thinking about the person who, for me, comes closest to what people talk about when they talk about what makes a good dad: my stepfather, Jeff. I know I've probably written a lot about him on this blog; I know I've written a lot of poems about him. He was only in my life for four years, but they were formative years, and I do miss him more now than when he died over ten years ago. He wasn't perfect, and we disagreed on a number of subjects, but we respected each other. He was interested in the things I liked because I liked them. He came to my orchestra concerts and left college brochures in my room with Post-its attached in his terrible handwriting; he thought I should apply to Wellesley and Middlebury.

One of my favorite memories of Jeff is a time we were watching TV and an infomercial for this fancy pen set came on. Fancy pen sets were the kind of thing that got me excited in high school. Fancy pen sets, Indigo Girls, and The Mists of Avalon: that's the kind of teenager I was. Wellesley and Middlebury, indeed. I commented that they looked cool, or something along those lines. He picked up the phone and ordered them right then. I'll be thinking about him today, grateful for his enthusiasm and love.