What a legacy fathers leave.
My own son, at three and a half, mirrors my actions in so many ways. In me, he finds his bravery, comfort, and joy. He laughs my laugh and sillies my sillies.
It’s an awesome responsibility, one full of mini-failures. For he also takes on my impatience, reads my fatigue at the end of a hard day. But those failures are couched in love, and that is a banner that I hope envelops all. My son knows he is treasured. He understands that he should value others the same.
What a gift, to be a father. It’s one I try never to take for granted. Happy Father’s Day to all of you fathers and non-fathers out there.
“The Gift” by Li-Young Lee
To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.
I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.
Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy’s palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife’s right hand.
Look how I shave her thumbnail down
so carefully she feels no pain.
Watch as I lift the splinter out.
I was seven when my father
took my hand like this,
and I did not hold that shard
between my fingers and think,
Metal that will bury me,
christen it Little Assassin,
Ore Going Deep for My Heart.
And I did not lift up my wound and cry,
Death visited here!
I did what a child does
when he’s given something to keep.
I kissed my father.