Monday, November 05, 2007

NOVEMBER 5: Dad's brand new ink (still healing)

"Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old."
--Franz Kafka--

When my sixty-five-year-old father revealed his new ink at the tavern he once owned, Mr. S took one look and said,
"Hey, it's another way for them to identify the body in a couple of years, right?"
and he laughed.

When he showed it to me, my heart caught--I saw the bold, "IRISH AMERICAN", the crossed flags for his crossed identity, and the ribbon running through the bottom proclaiming the date my older brother was born...but not the date he was lost to us. This was right to me--adding fresh ink to your body as a "senior citizen" should only remind of beginnings. The concept itself, of the Irish, the American, the remembrance--this image shows you my father more clearly than a photo of his face ever could. In that, he might smile--but, more likely, he'd hold his mouth in a thin line--eyes warm and dark, but cloaked with a layer of introspection and self-preservation I can recognize in my own mirror every morning.

We have had a challenging relationship, he and I. Some things can be shared here and some are kept tucked close in the pocket of my heart--little slips of paper, of rememberings, peeking out from between its folds like prayers in a wailing wall. That I love him--this I have never once doubted, even for a moment. But, our relationship isn't the one so many of my friends have where Dad is a confidant and a rock you can lean against--hard--whenever you need steadiness beneath your feet. There aren't deep confessions whispered on a candle lit patio or tender "Daddy's girl" snuggling on wedding dance floors. For us, there aren't even holiday dinners or weekly phone calls. And yet, I know that I am inked in his skin every bit as deeply as his heritage and his memories are. I know he carries my siblings and myself in the hollows of his bones.

Yes, it is true that my children do not know him as they do their paternal grandfather (who is a generous and kind man)--but, my interactions with my father--both dark and light--have shaped their mother, and so our story filters down through the generations. I wanted to tell him last week, our first visit or conversation in a couple of months, that his new tattoo inspired me because it shows that time hasn't diminished him--hasn't curtailed his growth. Getting fresh ink at a stage when others are retiring and slowing down makes me proud of the wild expansive center of who he is. I wanted to thank him for it, oddly enough, because it reminds me that whatever stages lie ahead for me, I always have the opportunity to choose the unexpected.

Instead, I asked to take a picture and said not, I love you, but, "I love it," hoping--as I always do with him--that the silent words between my words will say enough.


Blogger pink sky said...

sometimes it's those unspoken words that have the most power. i understand this too with a dad who is not comfortable sharing much.

7:15 PM  
Blogger Melba said...

Thank you for sharing this post. Very personal for you. Very Brave of you now that I think about it. Yay you!
Sometimes when I begin a heart felt comment I think about a post has effected me or relates to me. which this post I can completely relate to, but thoughts of me are out shined by you in such a beautiful way that is filling my heart on this cold Monday night.

11:08 PM  
Anonymous kimberley said...

I imagine that even your wordless presence communicates volumes.

12:23 AM  
Blogger Michelle (a.k.a. la vie en rose) said...

oh goodness...this post really spoke to me because i have a similar relationship with my own father...i get it...

2:47 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

Beautiful post, D.
I get it. The complicated parental love...I think many, many of us understand. But you, as always, write it so well.



3:32 PM  
Blogger daisies said...

your words resonate ... i also get it ... xox

5:59 PM  
Blogger Vanessa said...

"...that the silent words between my words will say enough"

just like his, i'm sure they do.

love to you,

6:11 AM  
Blogger January said...

I have a complicated relationship with my dad, too. It doesn't get easier; I've just become more accepting of the way things are with my parents. But the love is there.

Delia, I always enjoy your honesty on your blog.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Frida said...

beautifully written description of you unique father and your unique relationship with him but in a way that many of us can recognise a little of our own in it.

i love his tattoo and am also inspired by the reminder that there is no age limit on choosing the unexpected road.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Lilian said...

Beautiful post. I love my parents and we have a good relationship, but I just cannot open myself up to my mom. We're just too different.

Thanks for your latest comment. You know I adore your blog, but I haven't been visiting as often as I'd like. I'll be checking everyday in November, though :)

4:32 PM  

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