Fathers’ Day

Tomorrow is Father’s Day and, as seems to often be the case on Fathers’ Day, neither my daughter nor I will be at home with my husband to celebrate with him. I’m in New York where I’m giving a program at the Cenacle today, and Elena is already in Italy for her summer opera training program.

My husband is a wonderful father to our daughter. But the sad truth is that he gets short shrift from me on Father’s Day. This day, at least from my end, is always about my father, now deceased almost eleven years. (Pancreatic cancer, the scourge of my family.)

I still miss him my father. I still miss sharing what I’ve done with him. I hate that he doesn’t get to be here to listen to Elena sing or read her poetry. I even miss arguing over political issues. And I still, now and then, think about the things he said and did when I was young that had an enormous impact on me.

And so for this Fathers’ Day, for my father and my husband, and all the fathers, John O’Donohue’s For a Father:

The longer we live,
The more of your presence
We find, laid down,
Weave upon weave
Within our lives.

The quiet constancy of your gentleness
Drew no attention to itself,
Yet filled our home
With a climate of kindness
Where each mind felt free
To seek its own direction.

As the fields of distance
Opened inside childhood,
Your presence was a sheltering tree
Where out fledgling hearts could rest.

The earth seemed to trust your hands
As they tilled the soil, put in the seed,
Gathered together the lonely stones.

Something in you loved to inquire
In the neighborhood of air,
Searching its transparent rooms
For the fallen glances of God.

The warmth and wonder of your prayer
Opened our eyes to glimpse
The subtle ones who
Are eternally there.

Whenever, silently, in off moments,
The beauty of the whole thing overcame you,
You would gaze quietly out upon us,
The look form your eyes
Like a kiss alighting on skin.

There are many things
We could have said,
But words never wanted
To name them;
And perhaps a word
That is quietly sensed
Across the air
In another’s heart
Becomes the inner companion
To one’s own unknown.