These Are the Days…

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Yesterday I snapped at my elderly father…again…about smoking in the house. I have asked what seems like dozens of times for him to smoke outdoors, weather permitting, as I work to get my home ready to market. As any one selling- or buying – a home can attest, the smell of cigarette smoke is a deterrent. Now, it is true that “weather permitting” has precluded the possibility of being outdoors here until the last week or so…even now the night and early morning temperatures are at or below freezing.

It is also true that “weather permitting” means something entirely different to HIM than to me…I hold an expectation that sitting in the warm sun in a sweater or bathrobe is a pleasant thing…our back deck hosts a comfortable table and chairs. The birds are everywhere enjoying feeders, houses, and baths. The landscape changes daily at this time of year.

Our front porch could be on the cover of a magazine…wicker club chairs pillowed to nap in…curtains billowing, lamps and racks of magazines  and…dirty ashtrays…

This morning I came downstairs after nine, sun streaming in the back door to illuminate him sitting at the kitchen table en-plumed in a cloud. He saw me and immediately hid the cigarette under the table.

To say that my father is a scoundrel would be a gross understatement. At a younger, more virile age he was a monster, a sociopath of novel proportion. That story is for a different venue – but as a little example, we do have a standing joke in my family that he should reveal where he buried Hoffa before he dies…and it’s sorta funny! How he managed to escape prison, or being murdered is beyond me. He did disappear for several years, I imagine until the statute of limitation ran out on some crime he committed. But now he is a weak old man…

Don’t think me magnanimous or overly kind by taking him in. As there are, truly, two sides to every story, he also provided a wonderfully adventurous childhood rich in the support of art and music, and the best private education drug money could buy…

He is the same Dad who taught me to swim at the age of three, to be kind to animals, to confidently pilot a boat through ten foot waves. He saved my family when our forty-two foot cruiser sank in a sudden storm out in the middle of Lake Huron…He is the same Dad who trooped we five mischievous kids across the country, up and down the St. Lawrence Seaway, over to the Bahamas fishing, and instilled in us an awe of nature. He hired me in high school to paint a mural across the side of his construction office; and sat by my bed and listened intently when I grieved the loss of my best friend. He is the same parent, in partnership with my Mother, who encouraged me to paint and draw and never to be bigoted toward any other human, nor to measure myself below any other human.

He taught me that everything comes in dichotomous evidence…everything is perspective. Everything. Not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate that without him, I would not be who I am…

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing

there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass

the world is too full to talk about.

-Rumi

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