Thursday, June 12, 2008

Father's Day

My week has been jammed packed with my son's prom, graduation, arrival of immediate and extended family, grocery shopping, house cleaning, and all the other activities that go along with preparing for my son's rite of passage.

After speaking with my father yesterday to confirm his arrival time, I remembered that Sunday is Father's Day. While I don't necessarily celebrate every Hallmark holiday, I did note that my father had said that he was departing on Saturday. He knows me well enough to hear the unspoken (why can't the other men get it), and he immediately called back and told me that he had changed his itinerary to remain until Sunday, but that he had a meeting on Monday that he had to prepare for (uh, my father is retired, but that's a different story), so he will have to leave Sunday morning. I know that that bit of information was code for "don't make reservations for brunch, Michele."

I immediately thought about how my father has never been one for pomp and ceremony, despite the fact that he had a career with the Department of the Army, which is replete with pomp and ceremony. As an example, when he retired, he notified none of us; or maybe he said simply "I'm retiring." I later discovered through my mother handing me a stack of photographs that there was a retirement celebration that all of his children should have attended. He was later presented with the American flag that was flown on the U.S. Capitol building on the day he retired as well as four stars to symbolize the equivalent military rank that he would have achieved had he not become civilian personnel. I was in awe. But my father's reticence and unassuming posture amaze me, and it is what he has bred in not only me, but which I have also bred in my son.

So while my father is arriving to celebrate the hard work that my son has done by timely graduating from high school, getting accepted into the university that is his first choice, and causing me no problems (oh yeah, single black women can raise black male children and keep them out of trouble , but with the support of family and community), I am going to pause and reflect on my father's unrelenting commitment to being the best father and grandfather that he can possibly be to me, my siblings, nieces, and nephews. Of course, he will not allow me to do anything special for him, but he will hang around long enough for me to say thank you. For thank you is about all that he will permit any of us to give to him.

My father is, in an old fashion sense, a man of a different era. It is only in my father's presence that I feel completely secure, the way that I imagine women in past epochs felt when they knew that the man would take care of everything. In our post-feminist moment when most women do not know how to allow a man to be a gentleman, I love having my father around as he opens car doors, picks up the dinner tab, copiously checks out my house and notes any repairs that need to be made (and makes them without as much as saying a word), drives me around, enjoys my food, brushes the lint from my skirt, and reminds me that I am daughter and woman.

I will love having my father around for the next couple of days. Everyday is Father's Day when my dad is with me.


Anonymous said...

I was introduced to your blog via E-notes and have been inspired by your refreshing intelligance and life perception.

Your comment about your father is just touching, I lost mine at 10 in an industrial accident, and still miss him everyday. Thanks for sharing.


M. L. Simms said...

You are welcome, and I am sorry about your loss. One never overcomes losing a parent, but the memory of a parent solidifies with time and who that parent is and was as a person becomes more understandable and cherished.

E. said...

I am simply in awe of the relationship you have with your father and the depth of your appreciation.

I think this sparkling example of what we can be when we have our men in our lives.

Because, I know...there never has and never really was a father figure in my life.

And when I look around, this reality echoes throughout the lives of my kinship peers.

We are a generation of lost fatherless souls.

No wonder we have so many problems...