nonBlog—June 2009

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Fatherless Day—Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On Father’s Day I was at Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco's Tenderloin district with Olivia, witnessing the baptism of a friend’s baby boy. Church is never a good place for me because, try as I might, I cannot help weeping. I have never quite figured out why church makes me so mortifyingly emotional. Does it bring back painful memories from my childhood—the only time of my life when I attended regular services? Is it the stirring music? In spite of my objection to organized religion, is it something I need that I am denying? I never get to the bottom of it. Instead, I simply stay away. It’s easier.
 
But there was the baptism. It was a weekend during which a bunch of us helped to throw a Stone Soup wedding for a friend who has had two children with a man she never got around to marrying. Her five-year-old then pointed out that the other mommies and daddies were married, and within a month they set a date. But the recession had done away with all thoughts of a wedding budget, so the bride’s friends plotted and planned and each of us brought five things and did five things, and poof! Instant wedding. This is a friend who does favors for people as naturally as she walks on two legs; her payback, all assembled in one friend’s house, was a nuptials more lovely than those of a lot of folks who can afford caterers and wedding planners.
 
The day after the wedding, all the out-of-town guests were treated to Baby Number Two’s baptism. They cried tears of joy while I cried tears of frustration—hot, choking tears from way back in my throat. On a screen behind the pastor was a slide show honoring fathers. One photo was of a father’s grave. Olivia squeezed my hand. I was helpless to stifle myself. I hoped I wasn’t upsetting her too much.
 
Really, I don’t want my dad to be alive again. I can’t bear to think of him the way he was in the last year of his life, confined to his bed, his kneeless leg dead on the mattress, his eyes sunken, his speech incoherent. But as much as I abhor church, I am the first to say I know there’s something out there—I know because I feel my father every single day. He is young again, surfing on his big, beige “The Five S’s” board, smiling. But knowing all of this doesn’t stop me from wishing I could talk to him one more time, or ten. The best I could do was to mail him a Father’s Day card, addressed to Steve Losee in The Heaven With the Juicy Waves. I did that last year, too. Maybe I always will. I picture my card in a pile with all the undelivered notes to Santa, and the image—along with the knowledge that I don’t have to go back to church for the foreseeable future—comforts me.

 


 

 

New, or Practically New

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  • Fame and Fortune: Currently working on, and shocked to find I’m making headway with, the latter. Partly because of a bit of movement on the former. Perhaps endurance is the key to everything after all.