Sunday, Jun. 19, 2005 | 8:59 a.m.
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In Praise of Dad
Today is Father's Day and I have a few things to say about the fathers in my life. I dreamt last night of my dad and his dad. In my dream, I was a little girl again and we were preparing for a autumn celebration. We never did an autumn celebration and in my dream my mind, some mix of young and old, knew this. The feeling was different than our Thanksgiving gatherings or our Christmas gatherings. There was a decidedly Pagan festive feel to this gathering, which would be held in the woods on a camping trip. The night before the gathering was cold and I put my sleeping bag in between my dad and my grandfather's, warm and yet still cocooned in my own wrappings, inhaling the comforting smells of the first men in my life.
From my dad and his dad, I got my love of nature and music. These are weighty gifts in my life, strongly informing my spiritual path. Years of camping, of listening to music, of stories of late nights with the "boys" playing music and being silly led to a deep appreciation of the green world -- a world to be respected, pollution reviled; I wonder if Dad has put it together that I'm the tree-hugger I am today because of his disgust that stream waters once safe to drink were no longer safe by the time I was on the scene. My dad schooled me in the ways of armchair philosophy, opened my eyes early to the false hope of utopias, taught me to question, always to question, if it meant questioning him. My grandfather taught me the power of silence and of watching -- two excellent writer tools. There is a pun there, I suppose, as my maiden name, the name passed to me by these two men, was Rider, which sounds an awful lot like writer when it comes down to it. My grandfather taught me that you can show someone you love them without saying the words. I am grateful these men were in my life -- completely human and whole -- from an early age.
Later in the dream, I magically grew, became a young woman, and Jeff came to visit at the tail end of our harvest feast. As in real life, I knew with a scary surety that he was my life partner. The stages of our courtship flew by and soon we had our first child, Jasmine. I watched Jeff blossom as a father in my dream. Whether by fate or by some deep wisdom, I chose Jeff to father my children. He has embraced the responsibilities of fatherhood, not faltering when we added two more to the brood, somehow managing to remain devoted to Jasmine and her care while widening his heart to enfold Gabrielle and Nina. Jeff is so devoted that it was not uncommon for slightly swoony nurses to remark on it at the hospital. Tender, funny, loving... and tough enough to do the hard stuff, the scraped knees, the IV pokes, the wiping of noses and butts. Fixer of broken bracelets and air conditioners, bike chain replacer and Halloween costume sewer, head prankster and bullshitter, that's Dad (or Dada) to our girls. One of Jeff's biggest worries right now is the time he's missing with his girls -- he is the devoted dad he wanted to have.
I happen to know, in that way partners know secrets, that Jeff has always harbored a fear of being like his dad. His dad had many fabulous traits, some of which Jeff shares, but he also had a way of treating women and children that Jeff was afraid was in his blood. I want to shout it from the Superstitions -- you beat it, babe. You have been more of a dad and life partner than any you knew and whatever you thought was in your blood was only a shadow.
All dads out there doing the important work of knowing your children, of loving them, of nurturing them, I salute you. May our children know the power of a good father in their lives, whether that father is of blood or of spirit.
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Jasmine's Story ... Our Story - Friday, Sept. 30, 2005
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