Sunday, June 19, 2016

To My Father...

My father used to be a yard stick
By which I measured manhood
And myself
Often unrealistically
Always unfavorably

Through his eyes, I projected my own weakness
Assumed his judgment in his silence
And shirked away, afraid of the false evidence
I wrongly perceived in his every word and gesture

Then, one time and then another, he said, "Me, too"
He said I am what you are
I have been where you have been
And the difference it made was slow and infinite
As my mind and spirit grew to understand the vastness
Of his love

So my father was no longer a yard stick and instead he became
A cement mixer
Not with a large rotating cylinder on the back of some ponderous truck
But a personal, manageable barrel
Sturdy and strong
From which his manhood was mixed, poured, and leveled
All by his hand
And made into a walking path for his life
After it was earned
Once it was filled
With hard work
Personal strength
Integrity
Independence
Straight-forward speech
And a gentle steadiness that embraces everything but yields to nothing

And while the barrel needs to be filled
Up to the highest line marked by my father before me and his before him,
I know from him that I am free to mix it
With my own contents in my own way
With my own hard work
As long as it is hard work
My own personal strength
Because another's strength won't hold
My own integrity
Born out of honest choices I alone make
Then with independence and true speech and steadiness
Like stones sprinkled in for texture and color
But, always in the amounts and in the order that work for me

My father's mixture is his own and cannot be mine
Should not be mine

But, he gave me the barrel to use and showed me how to fill it.

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