Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Letter to My Father

Dear Dad,

Sorry I missed writing to you on Father’s Day. You certainly crossed my mind, but between an all-day workshop in Istanbul, dinner with my hosts and packing, it just didn’t work out. And you, with your usual dismissal of such contrived holidays as “sentimental nonsense” perhaps had no expectations anyway. And I just have to wonder if there is any sense of cyclical time where you are, any days distinct from any other. This August it will have been five years since you left us and who knows how and if you receive any of my letters and thoughts. But still it feels good to write them.

Anyway, all is good here. Sometimes I have to pinch myself that I not only found work that feeds and sustains me, but that I also have the supreme good fortune of continuing to receive invitations to do it. The mixture of travel and teaching is sublime, filling my need to keep investigating the myriad ways we humans put together a culture while bringing something with me (hopefully) more valuable than just my tourist dollar. These days there is also the chance to keep visiting colleagues become friends. The solitude of airplanes and hotel rooms have become steady companions as well as my lifelong pleasure in walking anonymously through the streets taking in the fresh new sights and sounds. You seemed to prefer the familiar comforts of home and routine and more and more so as you aged, but I love the rondo form lifestyle. The San Francisco School and my San Francisco home and life there is a beautiful and necessary A section with all the comfort of repetition, but this travel is the variation, the B, C, D sections that gets new synapses firing in the mind and gives new meaning to the old ones. A B A C A D A E and so on— the rondo form suits me well.

And speaking of home, big things happening there. As you may know, Chester left us (look for him up there) and mother-in-law Pam is trying to leave us and settled into hospice, though the latest news is that the doctors agree that her body is not ready yet for her mind’s program of no more eating and perhaps she’ll be with us longer than she planned. Mom is still with us and that is a blessing beyond words. Perhaps you’re impatiently waiting for her, but please keep her here as long as she’s happy. I simply don’t know what my life would be like without the two or three times a week visit to her playing piano and receiving her constant love. I know 91 years old is already living on gifted time, but hey, I wouldn’t mind if she hit 100. See what you can do.

Other news. The elementary school that has housed 43 years of funny, poignant and miraculous stories  met the wrecking ball yesterday. Meanwhile, the house next door to us on 2nd Avenue is almost done with its reconstruction. We so wish we could have bought it for our kids, but SF housing continues to be out of reach for the average human being’s salary. Certainly our teacher’s one. So happy we bought in 1982! And so destruction and creation, the pendulum swing of the universe at play.

And speaking of kids (and grandkids), Kerala and Ronnie come with Zadie’s first visit to San Francisco in a mere five days and won’t that be wonderful! We’ll take her to see Mom and have a party to introduce her to our friends. Then drive up all together to Portland, where your grandson Ian is getting married. You’d be proud of him—and he’s still driving your car! Talia will join us there and after seeing her on Skype only (oh, yes, have you been keeping up? A new visual phone technology) for almost a year and a half, I’ll finally get the 3-dimensional version. For the whole month of July before she returns to Argentina. And speaking of Talia, read her own Father’s Day tribute to soon getting to see her “five-senses Dad” on taliagoodkin.blogspot.com. Made me teary.

That’s the news more or less, brought to you by your son in Estonia. Just want to check in and let you know you are still constantly present in my life, from my urge to call you just before leaving on a trip to doing Crostics puzzles on the plane to eating pistachio nuts in Turkey on your behalf. Your fathering, for which I’ve always been grateful (even when you were impatient with me building that brick patio in our New Jersey backyard), continues to sustain me in mysterious ways. I’m sure I’ll invoke you in a upcoming wedding toast and will write again on August 15th to mark the day you passed over. Just wanted to let you know yet again that I’ve never stopped loving you and I never will.

Love,

Doug

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