zondag 12 juni 2011
Portrait of Father
Yes, I still celebrate Father's Day. P is now the lucky one who gets all the attention, art work, poems recited by heart and a gift wrapped up with love. It is a day that I now also call my mum to tell her that she is doing such a good job. Because ever since our dad died she is trying to be both.
I told her today while looking over the beach and the morning sun was blessing me that I do think that she does a splendid job. Dad for sure had been good father to us but now that she was on her own she did kind of did many things my dad used to do. She laughed and said that he was now pushing up the daisies and must be lying quite peacefully in that grave of his. Not that I don't miss him. I still do! But yes, time does kind of take care of many side effects.
You give it the space in your life that it seems to deserve. So, it doesn't suffocate me anymore, it can't make me scream out loud anymore, it can't make me run of or make me wake up in the middle of the night. Or at least not as often anymore! Yes, it has taken me to ages to give the grief and the loss the 'right' place in my life.
It can still suddenly make me cry when I watch one of these B-movies where a dad has this heart to heart with his daughter or I even change channels when I see a daughter drag her dad to aisle where the groom is waiting! I don't think that will ever change. Do I mind? No!! So today I gave my dad only the air time that he deserved and then handed over my father's day gift to P. He is doing a damn good job and I can tell you that A totaly agrees with that one.
While browsing over the internet I did came across this nice story about a father and daughter and I love it. It for sure tells a lot of how I feel about my dad. The message hidden in here I do think I have felt from very close by. I took me such a long time to set him 'free'. Don't get me wrong I still miss him and would give millions to have back next to me. But I do seem to cope a lot more easily with the loss. I have given it the space in my heart where it can linger around without paralyzing me. Happy to walk around and sometimes not seeing his shadow next to me!
No, we also not have many pics of my dad. In my dreams he does not even have a face anymore. He also sits most of the time with his back to me when he pops up. I recognise his voice but he is not as 'visible' alive in my dreams then a few years ago. The mind-portrait I painted of my dad is for sure the most abstract portrait I ever created but every time we do meet up in the dark I can recognise him.
A few months ago I walked into the office of my mother, that used to be was my dad's, and I saw this framed picture hanging against the wall. It had not been there before. I couldn't resist and took a picture of it. This time I did not ask my mum where she had found it or how it ended up there. I was tempted to do so but I just stood there and was enjoying the view!!!
Some say we never really know another person, that we really have only our perceptions of another while the real person remains a mystery, perhaps even to himself. At no time does this seem truer than after a person's death when perceptions are all that remains. It's a truth that came home to me vividly after my father's death.
My father's office called my mother soon after he died to say they had decided to name one of their conference rooms in his memory. He had been prominent in their firm and they wanted to have a portrait of him to hang in the room. So we sat down, my mother, my brother, my sister and I, and began sorting through boxes and trunks, looking for pictures of him that could be used by the portrait artist.
Curiously, there weren't many. He'd never been fussy about having his picture taken, especially in his later years when he was crippled with arthritis. We finally came up with a handful, ranging from his Air Force picture when he was in his late twenties to a snapshot of him at age 60, sitting, cane in hand, in a lawn chair in the yard.
My brother's artist friend volunteered to do the portrait. We gathered in great anticipation when it was finished and my brother brought it for us to see. It was hideous. The artist started from my father's picture as an old man and tried to shave a few years off him. Dorian Grey's portrait looked better.
So I, the youngest daughter, piped up and suggested that he try again, this time starting with my father's Air Force picture and making it a little older.
A month later the portrait arrived. Everyone stared at it for a long time. My sister, always a very black and white person, announced as soon as she saw it that she didn't like it; it wasn't him. My mother agreed that it looked like his Air Force picture but said she just couldn't remember my father back that far anymore. My brother liked it well enough but he said he really didn't have an eye for these things. He never got along well with Dad so I think he felt that disqualified him.
The firm didn't like the portrait either. The secretaries all remembered him as the wizened old man shuffling to his office. Even his partner of 30 years preferred to remember him that way. So they retained their own artist and commissioned another portrait, the portrait of an old man.
I have the original portrait. It sits on the floor in my office. It's the father I remember from my childhood, the one who suited up and strode out the door every morning to tame dragons when I was small, the one who threw me up in the air, rode me on his shoulders, my first love.
Mind you, I haven't hung it on the wall. It stands on the floor in my office. While I love having him with me while I work, I wouldn't want him getting the impression he's in charge here.
Copyright © 1998 Jan M. Simpson
P.S.: My dad was did buy tons of record and the 'Junglebook' by Disney was one of the first he bought for us to enjoy. This was one of his favorite songs and we were allowed to crawl on him and sing along! And the scratching we gave him he just loved!!! 'Bare Necessities' is for me the song that I play when I come to think of my father's necessities!