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Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Father's Day is never over

Fathers, Fathers Day, William Stafford, Bill Abts

Yesterday, my youngest child's Facebook status was "Every time I wish my dad a happy Father's Day he laughs and reminds me that every day is Father's Day. Lucky to have a pops who embraces his role full time :) LOVE YOU."

So even though it's the day after, I'm still thinking about fathers, my kids' dad, Mac, and my own father, Bill, especially. Two men couldn't have been more different, and yet both loved their children utterly and weren't afraid to let them know it. I should include the present tense there, Mac still being very much among the living and loving his children.

I don't know what my kids would say they learned from their dad. How to tell a good story, maybe. How to live simply, and how to be crazy about babies. I'll ask them next time I see them.

My dad taught me to measure twice and cut once. To work with utter concentration for as long as it takes. To kick back with one beer after mowing the lawn. To love food (maybe too much). To give up anger that the world isn't the way you know it could be and enjoy the company of dogs and the couple next door and whoever else you are blessed to encounter in the life you have.

Dad died at nearly 90, a man who'd been a bit of a son-of-a-gun young but had a sweet old age. Being much alike, we'd fought for decades, but that was all years past, the privilege granted by living long enough and hanging in together. The only thing I've lost that I really miss, besides people, is his retractable measuring tape. Must be something in the genes.

Here's a poem by another Bill, the wonderful William Stafford, about the kind of fathers I've been lucky enough to know.

With Kit, Age 7, at the Beach

We would climb the highest dune,
from there to gaze and come down:
the ocean was performing;
we contributed our climb.

Waves leapfrogged and came
straight out of the storm.
What should our gaze mean?
Kit waited for me to decide.

Standing on such a hill,
what would you tell your child?
That was an absolute vista.
Those waves raced far, and cold.

“How far could you swim, Daddy,
in such a storm?”
“As far as was needed,” I said,
and as I talked, I swam.

 

Thank you for swimming as far as was needed, even when you couldn't see the shore.

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