Tag Archives: Father

Left Undone…

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“Is that why you do it?” my husband asked.

I had gotten a large envelope from a friend who had found a few things of my fathers in a work file. His large handwriting looped smaller where he had run out of space. There was also a script and a program from a play he had done when we had been living in Florida. I had said something under my breath about wishing he were here to ask him about the school play.

I considered my husband’s question. Do I do drama because my Dad would be proud, because he would do it, because he’s not here to do it anymore?

I remembered after he died how I tried for a month or two to get on top of all the marketing for his self-published book, how I vacillated about painting the last bits of his painting. Something in me was a-flurry to finish what he had left undone. I still struggle with the idea of leaving things undone; but shouldn’t an artist, if they’re doing it right, be still working on something when they die? I had to stop. I didn’t have the heart necessary for the marketing. I left his painting to the few base layers of hue that makes it still, to this day, rather, a misty suggestion of a landscpe.

I decided I wouldn’t have been able to continue with drama fueled solely on the love my father had for it. But it was a healthy process to realize where some of the credit is due. My love of drama is my own but the habit of drama is something that has been built into me.

As I told the students in rehearsal, “A successful painting is interesting to look at. A successful sculpture is interesting to look at from every angle all the way around. A successful play is interesting to look at from every angle all the way around throughout the entire play, a sculptural collaboration of artists existing in a single moment of time.” I doubt the elementary students quite appreciated the image, but it explains what I love best about theatre.

I have never known a time when my Dad wasn’t rehearsing some production, when there weren’t curtains and call times to be planned for. My early years are marked by my sneaking backstage and begging to be onstage. My later years are marked by productions of my own and the productions I missed (My brother’s Nathan Detroit and his narrator from Our Town! It still stings a little bit to think about today.)

It feels natural to be on the roller coaster again. I do it because I love it. I do it because it’s a gift to give others. I do it because it’s a habit of creation that was built in me by my father. And I do it because it’s a habit I want to build in my own children, his grandchildren.

I miss him so much. But new things, even piddly little things like elementary school plays, are still coming out of his life.

And as far as actors go, my little one is showing promise… 😉

Trigger Warning: Contains Profanity…

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I told myself I’d write a blog post today. And all I can think about is my dear friend’s father, who is dying. Less than a month and the stupid tumor has stupidly doubled and is stupidly squatting all over his pancreas squishing the life and all possibility of treatment out of him.

And I am remembering when my Dad died, suddenly, with a phone call and a word to finalize it. After eight years I can watch the actions of the day with something solid and apathy-like in front of me acting as a filter. And they are all there, this family. I remember them standing next to us in the room, exclaiming out loud when we told them, crying with us seamlessly as one family.

I remember this man’s daughter coming to me in my backyard and saying the only thing in the whole week that was any help at all. “What the fuck?” she said. Exactly. What the fuck.

And my siblings are driving up right now, managers notified, half days taken. Our only plan is to walk in and stand with them because we have been stood with.

I find myself wondering how different it is, watching it happen, not knowing exactly how many days you will have to live in this limbo. When my Dad died the world stopped. The suddenness of it was gratifying to my grief. And the whole church showed up at the memorial. How gratifying that was. It was as it should be. The world should mourn with me.

I know what they will go through. Yet, I wonder at what they are going through. I want to bear witness to the life. I want to bear witness to the grief. I want to bear witness to the voice of Mary in me that cries, “If you had been here, Lord!”

And I bear witness to Jesus’ own tears. Because that is how the goodness of God was proven to me in that week. He wept. When my Dad died Jesus wept. There was no trite pat on my head. There was no image of a “Footprints” meme impressed into my brain. Jesus wept. He was with me.

Even now, Jesus nods with my husband when he says, “This is fucked.” Yes, fucked up. This isn’t how it was supposed to be at all.

Even though Jesus knows better than anyone that the resurrection is coming, that Lazarus will be walking out of that tomb in two hot minutes, still he weeps.

What the fuck? This isn’t how it was supposed to be at all.

Big…

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I remember being a little girl driving home at night with my Dad. Everything was black except for the long stream of Los Angeles highway running bright with headlights in one direction and bright with taillights in the other direction, the only demarcation of the rolling hills being the offset lines of red and white. Into this meditative silence my Dad said, “God knows all these people. He loves every single one of them.”

I had a similar moment this morning as I rode the bus to work. There were so many different people, so many different types of attractiveness, so many different ages. I was thinking about my morning as a parent getting dizzy vacillating between the emotions of only three small humans. But God is a Father to all these people. And I found myself wondering at how it must feel to wake up with the emotions of billions. How do you wake some up with singing and others to the worst day of their lives? How do you take joy in giving a tired mother her morning cup of coffee while dealing with the despair of a beloved son waking up on Van Ness in the aftermath of addiction?

God was suddenly that big again, bigger than the California-one bus line, bigger than San Francisco, bigger even than the infinitesimal system of Los Angeles freeways. He’s that big.

What’s in a Name…

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On the Saturday night of the weekend I was in New York I walked back to the hotel through Harlem by myself with the baby. The subway platform was crowded.  Rats were running along the tracks.  I observed some interactions that made me weary.  And then, I got on the train.

A dad and his son sat next to us. Baby promptly grabbed at the kid and we began to talk.  The boy was ten and wanted to be a chemist.

“A chemist?” I asked.

“He wants to solve the worlds’ ills,” his Dad told me.

“Well, how are your lab skills?” I asked.

The boy looked as if he really wished he could tell me. He looked like he might have gone out on a limb and told me that his lab skills were great if he even knew what lab skills were.

“Well, there are so many kinds of chemistry,” I said, “You’re best served keeping your options open so that you’re able to go down the path you want to follow when you find it.”

Dad looked at his son to see if he had absorbed that bit of advice.

The son continued to tell me how he was working hard to get good grades, the goals his Dad and he had set together, how strict his Dad was. And the way the boy talked, he was bragging.  He was proud of the contingencies that had been placed on his privileges and television hours.  Our stop came up.

“What’s your name?” I asked the boy.

“Craig,” he said.

“Well, good luck, Craig,” I said.

“And what’s your name?” I asked the Dad.

“Craig,” he smiled.

I smiled back.

“It was nice to meet you. You’re doing a great job, Craig,” I said.

The baby and I waved goodbye to the two Craigs through the window. And I wondered about it after that, the magic of bequeathing your name.  The willingness and care it takes to let someone else wear your name, how invested it makes you.

There was a sermon this summer on the name of God. The pastor talked about “Yhwh”.  He talked about the different ways to pronounce it, the implications of God revealing his name to us.  He said that lately Bible scholars have been drawing the connection between the sounds and spelling of the word “Yhwh” and the sounds and spelling in ancient Hebrew that represent the sound of human breath, nearly identical.

This is the depth of the Father’s commitment to us. And it is no small thing, that he would trust his name to our mouths with every breath.

And I think about young Craig from Harlem who will forever introduce himself with a name that was his Father’s first.

And I relax into the thought that before I was able to accomplish anything and long after I wear out my usefulness on this Earth my living breath will continue to proclaim the Father’s name.

Yhwh.