Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Thanksgiving Tale

This morning I'm sitting reading the Globe on-line. A story caught my eye about a mob hit from back in 1982. The son of the one of the people hit, his father an innocent man gunned down in the street when the boy was 8, said at the end of the story that he'd have given anything to have his father back. I started crying as I finished the story. I'd have given anything, too, to have had my father with me while growing up.

My father died when I was 7. He wasn't there for all my rites of passage, for all my angst growing up. No male figure to help me figure out how to be a male. I grew up to become a man in a household of women. To be sure, there were men around in my life, not in my home, but in my life. An uncle here and there, male friends of my mother, guy friends of my older sisters.

It wasn't until I was much older that I came to realize how much I looked up to older, male authority figures and how conflicting that was in my head. I didn't get it sorted out until I became a father myself and realized I'd become to my children what my father was supposed to have been to me. That my marriage didn't work out, that I became estranged from my family, that I stayed as close as I could to my children, all served to further cause me internal conflict regarding my need to fulfill my role as a father figure and as a male role model.

It's tough to be a father when you didn't have a father from which to draw any reference. Like any parent raising kids, I did the best I could with what I had where I was under the circumstances. And, I have lots of regrets and wishes that it all could have been different from what the reality was. But, I can't change any of that and living in guilt doesn't solve anything, either.

I am, however, grateful that I had the chance to become a father, to have had the experience in this life. I am thankful for being able to be available to my children, however it is and however often it is that we communicate. I'm grateful for every time I hear their voice.

Maybe thanksgiving for me this year is being grateful to be able to tell my children that I love them, now and forever. Even though I sit here, 396 miles away, I'm grateful for them being in my life, however remote it may be.

Later on today I'll sit at a table with people who at one time I was related to via my oldest sister's marriage. I only see them once a year, at thanksgiving. I know I should see them more often than that but our lives just don't intertwine sufficiently, I guess, for me to drive the hour or so to visit.

Nevertheless, I'm grateful to be able to sit at the table with them and am thankful they continue to accept this once a year person into their home.

Today, right now, thanksgiving is for me a day, at least a morning, of reflection for the thanks I feel for the opportunity to be with others, however briefly. I'll eat, talk, visit, and then drive back to my own place, where I'll give my dog, the only constant companion in my life, a hug. We'll go for a walk and then I'll feed her, adding some leftovers from my thanksgiving meal.

Maybe my true thanks today is to myself. I am thankful to be alive. I am thankful to be healthy. I am thankful I have a good job, a nice place to live, people with whom I can contact to share my thoughts and feelings.

I am thankful for the Spirit that in-dwells me. And, to honor that, I write here what I say daily:

Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frank, I read your posts from time to time but was especially touched by "A Thanksgiving Tale." I am a little intiminated by writing a comment because you write so well, and I am a "math" person. I've been walking at a local community center and met an 89 year old Pearl Harbor survival. The stories he tells are amazing. My new friend walks with me 3 times a week and we have become good friends in spite of the years of difference in age. Coincidental, after hours of conversation, I learned that he has 3 children, our age, 2 of which attended Patterson High School. Just had to tell you, and also Merry Christmas.
Your Buddy Dean Patterson Girl

9:27 PM  

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