Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Memory Keeper’s Father

Father’s Day is approaching and I gave myself an assignment:
Read Tim Russert’s Wisdom of Our Fathers and let it guide you through memories of your own father. Write down all the things your father did and said for which you’re grateful—the things you should never forget.

Why the Russert book in particular? Because several years ago I bought it for my father for Father’s Day, then got the wacky idea that I’d get a copy, too, and we’d read it and talk about it together. It would structure our phone conversations and, I’d hoped, prompt my father to tell a few stories I’d never heard—perhaps about his own father or grandfather. Together we would also reminisce about our father-daughter relationship.

Of course, it didn’t work out as planned. Instead, we each owned the book, and we each did not read it. Like father, like daughter.

Yesterday I removed the Russert book from a shelf and added it to the 20 pounds of books I’m about to part with (some I’ve read, others I haven’t). But it gnawed at me. Reminded me of my failed plans and guilted me into action. I felt like ONE of us should have read the blasted thing and since my father had already taken off for the Great Beyond, the responsibility fell to me.

So far it’s working! The reading is sweet and easy (the book is a collection of stories written by adult children about their fathers) and I’m creating a list of the ways in which my father positively influenced my life. This will become the list I’ll never want to forget—a fatherhood torch of sorts.

I recommend my assignment to you, though you don’t need the Russert book to do it. If you’re lucky enough to still have your father around, perhaps your list could become your Father’s Day gift to him this year.

I know some of us have/had fathers who aren’t/weren’t great role models. As one man wrote for the Russert book: “My dad was a beast. … I learned much more about love from my dogs than I ever did from my dad.” Even so, even learning from a father that you want to live differently is a lesson to be thankful for.

Do you have a favorite memory of or lesson from your father to share on Lull? Is your father a closet inventor or tireless prankster? What role did he play in your childhood? I’m not asking for masterpieces—just a line or two will do. Do it for your dad.

[Art by Norman Rockwell.]

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