My Father

Interface... the face is the exterior of the interior... the face is interred in the heart... "everything is a mystery of the face to face and the within."

Posted by Gagdad Bob at June 18, 2006 5:33 PM

I puts some comments and links on my blog. You were blessed to have a father that could inspire such poetry at his passing.

Posted by Bill at June 18, 2006 9:50 PM

Beautiful thoughts . . . gracefully stated. Thanks!

Posted by Marcus Abundis at June 19, 2006 8:00 AM

Gerard, you are a theologian. I've always suspected it but now I know it.

Just beutiful - I'm going to work the ending verses into a sermon one day - Ecclesiastes asks the same kinds of questions.

Posted by Donald Sensing at June 19, 2006 9:49 AM

There is something wonderfully final in the spilling of your father's ashes into a clear, mountain stream. My son rests, preserved, six feet beneath the ground in a central Indiana graveyard. We make a visit every month or two, but my grief is more when I am away from his grave. The stone and picture are not him, my memories are him. I think that is the way it must be for you and your father.

Posted by bill at April 11, 2007 6:37 PM

You've transformed loss. This is so lovely and filled with Hope.

Posted by Cathy Wilson at June 15, 2008 1:53 PM

The drawing for this post is based on an actual mountain in Colorado. It is named the Mount of the Holy Cross.

Posted by G.R.G. at June 16, 2008 9:50 AM

Yes, I know. Thanks for pointing that out though. It was chosen for that purpose.

Posted by vanderleun at June 16, 2008 11:05 AM

Our fathers died close to the same time. Have not reflected publicly on his loss, as it was one of three strikes: father, mother, and (unexpectedly) baby brother within six months, that all but knocked me out.

I love your essays better than just about anybody else's writing these days, but this beautiful reflection on your father's death and strewing his ashes brought tears to me.

Will have to write something about my own father, but few can match your gift for expressing the twists and turns of love.

That Dickinson line about how "parting is all we know of Heaven, and all we need of hell..." is only part of it.

One of your great gifts is that you celebrate your loved ones, and bring them to life for all of us. A great privilege to hear about your people--such vivid images and recreation of experiences, of mood and thoughts. Thanks.

Posted by retriever at June 20, 2010 12:08 PM

Kind words and I thank you for them.

Posted by vanderleun at June 20, 2010 1:17 PM

The last coffin I had the honor to carry was my paternal grandfather's. It was fortunate we had enough young men to actually make the lift and carry without having more than two of the funeral home's employees for that task.

What I remember was that the funeral home had many stars, five pointed stars, on the walls and pillars. And the stars were all point down. Falling stars. I pointed it out to my dad, and he had no idea why.


About 1999. My Aunt Margaret calls me. A friend of hers, someone she knew back in Saginaw, back in the 1930's-1940's has died and the funeral is in Muskegon. Aunt Margaret lives in Chelsea, I live in Dearborn.

So I tell the judge I work for that on such a day I have a duty.

And that day I do my duty. I take my aunt to Muskegon. I return her home.

It isn't a medal of honor moment, but it is a strike against the Cult of Me!, a strike to say that there is something more than you. To drive your aunt to a friend's funeral, get out of the car, open the unbrella, and then open the door and hold the umbrella over her as you go to the church (you not needing the umbrella because you are wearing a fedora).

Yeah, it is that. To pay homage to the household gods; to do decency, to observe the customs of the ancestors. Failure to do so does not lessen them; it lessens us.

And so, about 12 years back, a man esorted his elderly aunt to a funeral on the other coast of the state. Because she asked. And because certain conventions ought to be respected; not because they are conventions, but because why they became conventions.

Posted by Mikey NTH at June 20, 2010 1:35 PM

It is improper to ignore the lares and penates, you know. And when an ancestor requests a service from me, I perform the service.

And so my dad does not ride my ass, as I am one of his so-responsible-children. And that is it.

Posted by Mikey NTH at June 20, 2010 2:08 PM

This breaks my heart and lifts me up at the same time.

I read here frequently but could not leave without comment this time, sir.

Posted by Jean at June 20, 2010 5:28 PM

In your grief, you have given us all a gift.
I give to you my thanks and my respect.

Posted by Cheezburgrrr at June 21, 2010 4:28 AM

You said what I wanted to say, Jean and I'll say no more.

Posted by Jewel at June 19, 2011 2:24 AM

My father died when I was in college. I was staying at home at the time. He haunted my dreams for years.

Your poetry is very good. Do you have a collection in print? If so, I hope this one is in it.

Posted by bob sykes at June 19, 2011 5:34 AM

I am blessed to still have my father, although we nearly lost him while I was in my early 20's. Having lost my mother a couple of years ago (and, technically, a few years before to dementia), I can't imagine surviving the bloody battles of midlife without my dad's generous heart, ear and advice.

Fathers become more than fathers in those desperate moments when you think you'll die if someone doesn't really hear your pain. But your poem reminds me of the thoughts I had during my mother's passing. I remember being deeply moved because I felt I was truly seeing her life in it's entirety for the first time.

I was truly shocked that she was more than just my "mama" and my kids' doting "grandma". The seemingly endless parade of people at her funeral - who were they? Faces that spanned generations of a life that was invested in a rather limited range of locations and communities - but here they all were, strangers to me, gathered together with memories of my mother that didn't include me or my kids, gathered to express their condolences to me and my kids.

It was like taking a tour through her life, a life I never fully appreciated until that moment. It forced me to reflect on my own life - and I'm still reflecting two years later.

It's amazing how much parents inspire in us and teach us, even in their passing, even long after they are gone. We are somewhat prepared for the grief, but it's in the process of losing someone that we find more of ourselves.

Your questions, though rhetorical, are profound. I think the most important answer lies in what we learn, good or bad, about our own lives while we are still living. In the end, the parade of people move on to the next funeral, but it will be our loved ones who will reflect deeply after we are gone. And I think the questions they ask may very well be our most important legacy. So thank you for sharing this most intimate moment.

Posted by RedCarolina at June 19, 2011 11:30 AM

Dear Gerard,

I lost my father almost 30 years ago and my wife about 20 years ago. I am in my twilight years now. I am at peace. I look forward to seeing two great loves of my life again.

Thank you,

Posted by Roy Lofquist at June 19, 2011 11:49 AM

Very beautiful. I cried.

Posted by ahem at June 19, 2011 4:48 PM

As I read this, in the distance there is muffled thunder. Gerard will know how rare that is where we live. It sets me to wondering if in all of the recent passings there is not some clearing of the decks for us younger ones to see action. Will we answer our country's new cry for help as well as did those who stood on these boards before us?

Posted by Ray Van Dune at June 16, 2013 4:32 PM

Your poem is the argument against homosexual marriage and out of wedlock births. We need fathers not sperm donors.

How many will not know a father ?

Posted by Grace at June 18, 2013 12:59 PM

Beautiful. I hope that one day, not too soon, my son will do the same for me. He is the son I had hoped he would be. May his sons be the same.

Posted by FXDWG at June 17, 2014 12:13 PM

Your father stood for what was worthwhile and did not stand for what was not. May we at least stand in his shadow, standing for the true and decent.

Posted by Howard Nelson at June 17, 2014 4:00 PM

Thank you so much for this.

Posted by Roger B. at June 19, 2016 5:49 PM

I do not have a clue !

Posted by u4fifa at June 30, 2016 3:54 PM

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