I finally planted the pansies in the little beds by the front walk a few days before Christmas. Planting the pansies involved raking leaves out of the beds, and, as always, my thoughts turned to my dad as I raked. It’s a connection that I’ve taken for granted over the years. In fact, I didn’t even give it much thought until it prompted a blog post about my dad, the very first post on this blog.
I believe there are threads that connect us all and that these connections are never lost. We may think they’re gone because someone dies or leaves us in some other way, but we carry those people with us every day. They become and remain a part of who we are.
A while back, I came across a quote by Madeleine L’Engle (author of A Wrinkle in Time, A Circle of Quiet, and many other wonderful books):
The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.
During the 2008 presidential election, a pundit speculated about why Barack Obama’s autobiography was titled Dreams of My Father. The article implied that, in so titling his book, he wasn’t showing proper respect or sufficient appreciation for his mother, the parent who had raised him mostly on her own. I remember thinking at the time that the person who wrote the article must have been raised in a two-parent household.
My father, in college days
I was visited by the spirit of my father this afternoon as I raked my yard. Turning the rake over and dragging it along the ground to release the leaves that had been skewered by the tines, I was pulled back in time to the day my dad showed me this little trick of unclogging my rake.
A simple thing, of course, but, at the time, to the child that I was, it was amazing. It was one of those “how cool is that!” moments. I’ve never lost the feeling of childlike wonder and delight at learning what seemed at the time to be a mysterious grownup secret that my dad was letting me in on. I still think it’s a pretty neat trick, and his presence is with me every time I do it.
I have these sorts of moments from time to time. I recall my father showing me how to sweep dust out of a corner; every time I jab a broom into a tight spot—just so—he is there. I remember ballroom dancing with him to Lawrence Welk’s music on television, telling me as he led me around our tiny living room that the proper way to dance was on the balls of my feet—my very first dancing lesson, by the first of what would eventually be many dance teachers.