Tuesday, August 14, 2012


August 14th...

My Father would have been 70 today.

This day always sort of sneaks up on me every year...  and I'm never really sure what to do or how to behave in order to mark the occasion.

He and I only found common ground in the few years before his sudden death in 2004... before then he was both the rock AND hard place of my life; my greatest idol and most savage adversary in one.
I struggled to step from within his giant shadow and forge my own identity... in spite of what sometimes seemed to be his best efforts to stymie me.

Those dark times, strangely enough, were perhaps his greatest gift.
 Coupled with every curse I muttered under my breath was a secret desire to make him proud.

I thought that every mile I put between us was another brick in the wall that would keep me protected from his disappointment at my failures... his furious incomprehension of my chosen vocation.
I built that wall strong and high... at that time it was probably the only thing I did with complete confidence and clear purpose.
It took a lot of patience to do it... a careful respect for process and an organized plan for construction.
As the time passed, I was less concerned about the thing itself and more centered on how shocked he would be when he realized what I had accomplished.

I'd show him.

It took almost 30 years to live up to those words.
And all it took was a simple phonecall to knock down a wall that took most of my lifetime to build.

You see... the very strength and resistant resolution of my fortifications were mortared with everything he'd ever taught me.  Through his challenges to my calling... his unflinching demands for integrity and achievement... he had inadvertently engineered my drive for success.  Surely he had wanted an easier time for me, a more elevated career perhaps... but in spite of his heavy-handed efforts and my willful disobedience...  he had successfully molded me into a responsible adult.

He said to me that he'd always thought I'd come home with my tail between my legs... asking for his help... and that when those things never came to pass he finally knew me as a man instead of just his oldest son.

I wish I'd had the forethought then to tell him that my Father taught me better than that.

I miss him.



Betty Ming Liu said...

I'm glad you posted this. My dad died more than three decades ago. I can't even remember his birthday. But reading your experiences makes me feel a little closer to him. I miss him too.

Anonymous said...

This is very touching. I am sure he is very proud of you now and so am I...

The Keeper's Notes said...

I think you may be an even better wordsmith than an artist. And that's saying something.

Greg said...

Kind words... from all of you.
Each one of you would have found something different in him to connect to, I'd imagine.

I only regret that I never had the chance to introduce you to him while he lived.

Still, if the measure of a man can be seen in the company he keeps, I count myself lucky to have you all with me as I stumble onward.

Thank you.

The Keeper's Notes said...

I'll be stumbling right along with you, my friend.