Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

Today we celebrate our fathers, blood and chosen, those who helped form us, who often provided for us, taught us, laughed with us, disciplined us, and loved us. Some of us didn't have the best relationships with our fathers, others didn't know their fathers at all, but still, in ways large or small, they played a role in our lives.

I lost my father almost six years ago. He and I did not get along all that well throughout my life. His philosophy was that children should be seen and not heard, especially not girl children. Obviously, he got the wrong daughter if that is what he wanted! While I was on my way to becoming an Episcopal priest (before I became a UU), my father left the Episcopal Church when they began to allow women's ordination. We were both stubborn, which didn't help.

Even still, I knew my father loved me. I know he was proud of me and what I accomplished. Near the end of my father's life, I was able to thank him for the gifts he helped bestow on me, especially the love of, and for, music. Much of my musical ability came from my father (though my mother had a beautiful singing voice). I remember how delighted my Anglophile father was when I returned from choir camp sounding like an "English Choir Boy," and having won the Girl's Best Singer award. His focus on academics, reading, working hard, and doing well, were lessons he (and Mom) imparted to all of us. While he wasn't into sports (I love them), his genetic makeup carried a lot of athletic ability, which he passed on to me (along with Mom, who actually did play sports with me when none of my brothers were around).

My father was also a religious man. When he served in the US Navy, he worked in the Chaplain's Office. Growing up, we had an altar in our house, and we prayed together as a family. We ate dinners together, all of us, and whenever a meal was shared, the blessing was said. Since he was the organist at every church we attended, we went to church together for years and years, until I went off to boarding school in high school. While our religious beliefs differed, my father's religious devotion was an inspiration to me.

I don't remember now who said this, but it really hit me - at some point in a child's life, s/he sees the parent as a person in their own right, not just a parent, as an individual who had their own hopes and dreams, just a person doing the best they can with what they have and know. It was really liberating in a lot of ways. It opened my eyes to see my father as a man who worked hard for his family, who had a great sense of humor, was a bit of a prankster. He was someone who had dreams realized, and dreams unfulfilled, accomplishments and disappointments, gain, and loss. He was just a man, a human being, not perfect, but doing the best he could.

As my own issues with joint pain impact my life, I cannot help but feel for my father, a brilliant organist and pianist whose playing days were cut short by rheumatoid arthritis that deformed his hands and feet. Having had to give up playing instruments myself as a result of arthritis, I can appreciate how devastating losing that ability was for my father. It has enabled me to understand him better. And to appreciate him more. I hope, wherever he is in the universe, he knows that.

One last thing about my father. Even though he would grumble and complain, he didn't stop me from bringing home every stray I found, cat, dog, or person. He let (Mom and) me have ponies and horses. And even though he claimed to not even like animals, I would catch him, when he thought no one could hear him, "hey, kitty, kitty, kitty, who's a pretty kitty?" Like that.

And so, on this Father's Day, for fathers blood and chosen, whether we had close relationships or tumultuous ones, this video is for you. It is sung by one of my favorite groups, the Corrs, and it has horses in it, so there ya have it:

Happy Father's Day. I would love to hear about your fathers.

And speaking of the physical issues that affect so many of us and our fathers (and mothers), many of you know that I had a knee replacement back in September. Unfortunately, there are issues with it that have been causing me debilitating pain. I will be having some more tests done this week to try and determine the origin of the issue. I will be away from my keyboard for a couple of days, just so you know. Copyright © 2011 by Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy


Mary Ellen said...

What a great tribute to your dad, Rev.Amy!

Ouch with the knee! Hope they figure out what the problem is and it's an easy fix without surgery. Will keep you in my prayers.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Thanks, ME! I appreciate that on both counts - your prayers are very much needed.

And I would love to hear abt your dad!

Mary Ellen said...

Oh, my dad was a great guy but I always didn't see that when I was a teen...very protective! He had a great sense of humor and kind of a hot temper (Italian, ya know), really a good looking guy. He adored children, just loved them all to bits.

He was a hard worker, he worked for the Cook County Highway Dept. as a supervisor. Very much a blue collar worker. Every time I drive down the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago I think of him because he was there to build it, among other highways in the area. I have a lot of respect for those guys working out in the heat and cold.

We were very close, and I miss him every day. He passed away when he was only 65, his heart was really a mess. He had his first major heart attack a year after my brother passed away a month shy of his 16th birthday from sudden heart failure. After that he had another heart attack and then eventually had bypass surgery (a fairly new procedure back then). That added an extra ten years to his life, but his heart was just too weak to go further.

His life wasn't easy raising five kids, but he made sure we all went to the Catholic school--even though the tuition for that many kids was a struggle. At the time I didn't appreciate it, but now I do.

The story of how he met my mom, eloped when she was only 16 was a riot. They kept their marriage a secret for almost a year until he almost got caught sneaking out of her bedroom window in the middle of the night when he was on weekend leave from the army and fell into a thorn bush on the way down. When my mom told her parents, her dad kicked her out of the house and she lived with his parents when he went to fight the war against Japan.

I guess my mom was a real rebel, eh? LOL! The little sneak! Maybe that's why my dad was so protective with me...he knew what he and my mom did when they were young!

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Holy cow, ME - what a man your father was! That is so cool abt the Dan Ryan - it must make you proud eveyr time you drive down it.

His story with your mom is funny, and so dear. I guess your mom was a rebel - clearly, you take after both sides! :-)

I am sorry you lost him, and your brother, so young. I can certainly see his heart would give out after losing your brother...But I am glad he was able to be with you as long as he was after that. Thank heavens for the new heart surgeries at that time...

Thank you, sweetie - he sounds like a great man...

Stray Yellar Dawg? said...

So... are you at the GA? Or is your knee too bad for you to travel??

If you are there... would love to hear your take on this evening's Morales address to ministers.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Hey. SYD - no, I wasn't at GA. We had plans to go to Atlanta for a co. outing to see the Braves, but I missed that game 'cause of my knees (I did see the other two - helped to have the guy wheel me to my section on Sun.), then went for the tests for my knees.

Anyway - what happened? Do I need to look up the speech?