My dad

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

He turns 79 today, but that’s not how we’re supposed to say it. He prefers us to note that he is “beginning his eightieth year.” This way he gets to say he’s 80 a year early, in the same way I started calling myself a teenager when I was 12. But we’ll honor the request. After all, he’s almost 80. That counts for something.

My father has been a profound influence on my life and on my writing. He is a poet, first and foremost. This means he sees the world through the eyes of a child, and his heart is pure, and his feelings are easily wounded. He is an alchemist who transmutes emotion into words into laughter and tears. He rages against social injustice and corruption and he cheers good intentions. He is a hopeless optimist. He does not suffer fools gladly. He is committed to the life of a Christian seeker. He is not allowed to touch chain saws, but he makes great soup. (There was a time when he made Very Bad Soup. The scene in SPEAK where the dad buries the nasty turkey soup in the backyard was inspired by one of Dad’s earliest soup attempts in the early 1970’s.) He likes Harry Potter. He has never forgotten the lessons of the Great Depression. He gave a poetry reading last month that left the audience in tears. He loves my mother.

My father is a great man.

In all honesty, I have to report that I did not think this when I was 13 years old. Our family went through a very, very rough decade (more like 15 years) and through much of it he confused me, bewildered me, infuriated me. I am sure I did the same to him. There was love underneath it all, but lots of pain was smothering it. So if you’re having a hard time with your dad or mom or whoever today, take a deep breath and count to 80. Try to talk about it. The pain can be washed away and the love will grow.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic My dad.

16 Replies to “My dad”

  1. Make sure to wish him happy birthday for me!

    Glad he is isnt depressed, that gets me annoyed. You have lived another year, be happy and party your butt off!

    Also liked what you said about your father. You can tell you really love and understand him.

    I am 17 and I like to believe I am starting to see my parents like this. You have to realize that they have faults but are amazing people and you are lucky to have their influnce. I always wish my sister would realize this but she is just 13 so she has time.

    I’ve always thought that you really start to grow up when you realize how important family is (even when you have to indure them during the holidays) and that your family is not perfect. You just have to accept them for who they are and love them for it!

  2. What a tribute! Your father sounds like a honest and noble man. When you said “He loves my mother,” that said so much, especially nowadays when mothers and fathers choose to stop loving each other. “He does not suffer fools gladly.” That, as well, is a rare quality these days. It seems like we have to suffer fools daily, and I feel as if sometimes I’ve forgotten how to interact with fools.

    Thanks for reminding me of some of the reasons I love my father. Good men are hard to find.

  3. You are very fortunate to have a man as great as your father. I wish I could say the same, but I think my mother’s strength makes up for it. ~.^ And he’s a poet — I guess that’s where you get your writing flair from!

    Anyway, sorry for the random comment. My name’s Stephanie, and you were referenced in another community. I’m a writer myself (haha, or so I like to say), so knowing an actual author with a LiveJournal just makes the profession more… accessible, I suppose. Your writing is fantastic, and I look forward to reading more.

    To add a cliche note: “Write On!” ~.^

    And I friended you, hope that’s all right!

  4. Happy Birthday to an awesome god-father! Let him (& Joyce) know I said hi and give him (& Joyce) a big hug for me. 🙂

    Little Quirk

  5. fathers

    It was really encouraging to hear that you were able to get over such a long rough patch with your father. I just went through a few years of not speaking to my father, and although we’re not on the same page yet, it’s nice to hear that it’s still possible.

    Does your father have any books of poetry published??

  6. this happened to me today. i broke down with my mom and told her i think i have borderline and cried to her and screamed and everything but by the end of it, i think all of the hate between us was completey washed away. it was scary and the hardest thing i’ve ever done. but completely worth it. she’s calling a therapist for me tomorrow and now she knows that i don’t hate her at all and that i just need a little extra help. so seriously ALL of you guys.. talk to your parents about will only get better…

  7. Re: fathers

    He published a book with a small press when I was very little.

    One of these days, he’ll put out another one. He has a couple thousand poems to choose from, near as I can figure.

  8. I’m very glad you have this relationship with your father–cherish it!

    My father passed away and I feel like I’m missing out on a lot, especially at my age (I’ll be 18 in a few days) I don’t have the greatest relationship with my mother either…sometimes I think it hurts her to look at me because she misses my dad so much. I haven’t lived with her in a year and a half..I was forced to grow up before I was ready..but in the long run it will be for the better. Hopefully one day things will be able to be patched up..until just have to keep hoping ya know.

    Happy Birthday to your dad,

  9. Wow. That is an incredible story. I am in awe of you and your mom for having the courage to break down the walls and say the hard things and move on to the next place. I will hold you both in my thoughts.

  10. Thanks for sharing the anecdote about not always seeing eye-to-eye with your father. I really appreciate that story.

    Also, i finished FEVER over the weekend and enjoyed the end of the book a lot (the last 80 pages or so), so thanks for another solid read 🙂

  11. such a daddy’s girl

    I’m such a daddy’s little girl too. Although he doesn’t write poetry he is inspiring to me. One of the reasons is because he taught me what doesn’t kill you makes you stromger. He also taught me that you can triumph over adversity. He’s a bit of a realist and I’m a bit of a dreamer but he’s still my daddy! – Jessica

  12. Happy Birthday, Daddy

    I just wanted to tell you that those beautiful words about your dad so inspired me that I am leaving them for my 17-year-old son who is currently experiencing quite a bit of pain. Hopefully, they will help him through the “hurt.” He is having a terrible time with his parents.


  13. My dad

    My dad and I don’t talk a lot, but I still feel close to him because everytime I look in the mirror, I see so much of him in me. Like seriously, I am the girl version of him. And he has such a great singing voice (he got offered a country music deal from Nashville but turned it down so I would have a decent life), and I got a little of that from him too. I act mostly like my mom though, but she and I don’t really get along that much. The thing about my dad that I admire and wish I had most is his ability to keep his mouth shut. When dumb people annoy me, I end up saying something rude to them, but my dad just sits back and smiles at their ignorance. He really loves my mom and us kids, too. Even if he doesn’t always tell us, we can see it in his actions.

  14. wow you really love your dad!!!! That’s great! I myself write poetry but I’m not good at it, I won’t be able to get anywhere. By the way, I love your books!!

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