Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Father's Day Remembrance

I had two fathers.

The first was the father of my childhood and teenage years. He was a faithful and good provider for his family. He was generous to his kids. He took us on road trips to Disneyland and the Grand Canyon. He could make us laugh so hard it would hurt. He was somewhat driven and impatient. He could be competitive and pugnacious and brutal in his honesty. He accomplished many exceptional things, yet tended to see himself as a failure. He was often frustrated. He had a short fuse and an explosive temper. Sometimes when I exasperated him (as I often seemed to do) he would call me "stupid" and "useless".

I loved him, but I also feared him and raged at him and rebelled against him. As I grew, I too became angry--at him and at the world. But one day shortly before I moved away from home--after he and I had one of our confrontations--I sat alone in my room brooding, and God spoke to me. God showed me that when my father was a boy *he* had been called "stupid" and "useless". Those voices continued to play in his head--and sometimes they spoke through him to me. This revelation broke my heart for my father and gave me compassion. I resigned that the cycle would stop with me. Those voices would not carry forward to my children or my children's children. The anger in me evaporated.

My second father was the father of my adult years. He was a man who had been softened by time and by a crushing bout of mid-life chronic depression. He came through the other side of it with more patience and serenity, but still retained a wicked sense of humor. He had a very low tolerance for bullshit or for discrimination against people. He went out of his way to help people and had a knack for making them feel accepted and liked--including me. He spent many hours running, hiking and riding his recumbant bicycle in the foothills and mountains of Colorado. He told me once that his philosophy of life was to "just roll with it." He doted over his grandsons. When he died, his memorial service was packed with people. I heard people say that he had made them feel valued.

Both fathers were, of course, the same man. His name was Maurice Peter Coleman, but everyone called him "Mo". I am proud to be his son and grateful for all he did for me. I am proud of what he accomplished and who he became. I miss him very much.


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