Sunday, June 15, 2014

What to do

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.
     -Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring
Before my dad retired (a little more than 10 years ago), he was a teacher.

The kind people recognize on the beach 30 years later and stop to say 'you were the best teacher I ever had.'

Of course, it's tricky making a life outside of work live up to that standard.

For many years it did not. For a long time I held onto the painful parts of growing up, more than what was good. There was no shortage of pain to hang on to and at the time it was the best I could do.

For example, not being able to match his level of education. No GI Bill. In a male-dominated society, having the other gender. Instead, being harassed on the street, told by strangers to 'smile'. In the classroom, being ignored. Not achieving what he had in mind for his kids to achieve. Feeling the deck stacked against me, refusing to perform.

It is possible to live in defensive mode, focused on failure and only what is lacking. When it comes to gifts, being shaken out of that is a big one.

Somewhere on Highway 9 on the way up to Saratoga Gap, today I felt grateful for knowing the least conventional person in the world. Someone who puts zero stock in appearances. Who cares about people and animals, along with the laws of physics. Collects eggs, tells jokes and stories, and sets a piece of wood at the proper angle so it can be split. Walks around with dirt on his shoes. Wants only homemade Christmas gifts; not store-bought.

Insists that we read books, not stare at a TV. We were regulars at the library; before it was fashionable, he read us The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Aloud, every word! Recent studies show that's good for the brain. If I can think for myself, the credit (or blame) goes to him.

Somehow, from his example came the courage to stand up to whoever truly wished I would wither up and blow away: my coworkers, Danny's family, friends who were not friends, doctors without empathy. His words: "what did they expect you to do, just eat it?" It was easy for him, a scientist and original thinker, to see the naked truth. As usual, he is right about the big things.

When we visit he wants to discuss the last five Krugman columns in the New York Times. Where we are with peak oil. The barometer, and the tides. He knows global warming is real.

Roberts Market in Woodside has Father's Day cards. I spin the carousel several times. Every cliche and stereotype is represented there; none of them fits.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

1 comment :

  1. You should publish this - truly beautiful. Almost made me cry! (Ugh gross, emotions.) xoxo

    ReplyDelete