June 17, 2011

The card I make for Father's Day this year will be the last one. Dad passed away Saturday at home surrounded by his family. He finally gave up his exhausting and painful battle to stay alive, a battle he bravely waged with every ounce of strength he could muster from his emaciated body, with every rattling breath he could inhale into his water-filled lungs, all without complaint, not because he wanted to cling to life but because he knew his family did not want him to leave. In his death, as in his life, unselfishness was his defining trait. He worked hard all his life, sometimes holding down 3 jobs with the singular purpose of providing the best life possible for his family. His contribution to the community included years of loyal service to The Council for Retarded Citizens. He grew up during The Depression where frugality and self-denial forged his character. Dad was not the type to indulge himself with anything beyond a little bowling and a cigarette, both pleasures having been left behind many years ago. In retirement, he followed my Mom to the casinos for a little fun at the slots. But as I listened to the family stories weaved between the sobbing, the common theme was all that he done for us.The memory I hold closest to my heart about Dad is the way he chauffeured my teenage rock band around to our gigs and was there with us as we unloaded the equipment at two in the morning. That was an incredibly supportive sacrifice by a father back in the sixties especially when his son sported a shaggy head of hair that he detested. As I examine the person that I became, I like to think I see my father’s influence in the pleasure I get from volunteering and doing pro bono legal work. It satisfies the part of my soul that I inherited from my Dad. An important aspect of my art has always been the act of giving it away and not expecting anything in return. So, this Father's Day I will make a card for Dad and though I will not see the gentle smile on his face that thanks me for it, I will offer it in a one-way tribute to the man who gave me so much.

You will always be my father
I will always be your son
You will live inside my heart
Until my days are done

I learned from you that giving
Returns its own reward
And the price of showing kindness
Is one I always can afford

I look to you to guide me
With the wisdom you bequest
Your work I will continue
As you finally take your rest