I lucked out in the dad department. Lucked out big time. My father was born to be a dad. Impossible to think of him without beings to care for and nurture. Now that the four of us are all grown up he nurtures the hell out of his grandkids. He's there for birthdays, holidays, in the audience at their recitals, soccer games and school plays. And he nurtures his garden; patient, steady, attentive, on hands and knees, weeding, watering, transplanting.
What do you say about a guy whose favorite book is Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss? Who would himself sit on an egg for months if he had to because that's just the kind of guy he is?
My father is gentle and funny and thoughtful and smart. He loves books, flowers, bridge. He loves to make bread and soup. He never met a carbohydrate he didn't like. He has slowed down with time, but the truth is he was never very fast. his virtues are more about endurance and patience than flash or speed. He lives from a deep well of generosity.
These days he can often be found in an armchair falling asleep behind the New York Times. A working-class kid who loved the Brooklyn Dodgers, he aspired to read his way through the library, beginning with A. He has always revered knowledge and learning. We had many many family outings to the Science Museum or to Art museums. HWhen my youngest brother got a PhD in Science, Dad was so proud he cried.
There were four of us and we each got different things from Dad according to our different personalities. With me he read and talked about books. he taught me cribbage. We went to Art museums together, and we stayed up on election eve together, filling in all the little boxes of electoral votes in the chart the Boston Globe provided. We hiked the White Mountains of New Hampshire together--he'd wake me at 5 in the morning and we'd drive for a couple of hours, stopping at a diner for breakfast and continuing on for a long day in the mountains.
He took my brothers to ball games, and attended their sporting events. He played games with all of us. He loves jigsaw puzzles and crosswords. He timed my sister's sprints with a stopwatch. He took them on their own hiking trips and museum visits. He has breakfast with my brothers once a month, drives two hours to my sister's house to hang with her kids. The grandchildren climb all over him. They call him "Papa." He is putty in his granddaughters' hands.
There aren't really words to describe this man. He is basically a column of potent love with some skin around it. The light shines very fiercely out of his aging face. He has had some hard times in his life, but nothing has dimmed or diminished that essential sweetness. There aren't really words, and there are no gifts that can be given to adequately say thank you for this. It is a gift that has to be passed on.