There is a quiet place, a secret place, that is yours for restoration. There is a realness in the stillness. Go there, when you can; when you need to. It's safe. For me, it is the Other Side of the Trees.
Odd, it is, such a nickname. Not used exclusively. We used “Dad” most of the time. Grandkids called him “Popaw”, who was married to “MiMi” (short i). And if you weren’t family, he was known mostly as “Bill”; sometimes “Billy”; and rarely “Willy”. Dad Man, also known as Bill Davis, was my Dad, as already Mentioned. And Dad Man passed away this morning: Friday morning, 7:45 CDT. We are hugely thankful that he did not suffer in his final week. In fact, he fell asleep on Thursday the 16th, and continued sleeping until this morning. Dad Man was on a U.S. Navy ship in the South Pacific, in WWII. They did “mine sweeps”, sending divers down to release the mines; they would rise to the surface, where sharp shooters could detonate the bombs. My Dad was a passionate high school basketball coach; a high school principal; and he loved his golf. His storytelling ability / giftedness was second to none. He was authentic, trustworthy, and had real humility. A great father, a great husband, and he loved to laugh … a laugh that was wildly contagious.
My last post was about the Return of the Prodigal. This man in the picture is the Dad who always loved me, never rejected, always welcomed me. A great man, Bill Davis. I will miss him.
Hope, from an image. Not just an image, but a painting. Not just a painting, but a Rembrandt; Rembrandt’s TheReturn of the Prodigal Son.
Rembrandt’s painting connects with a biblical passage, Luke 12. Here is my “Readers Digest” version, a short paraphrase that does not do the full story justice. So, accept my apology. A younger brother, working with his father and older brother in the field, complained to his father about the hard work, the boredom. He wanted to leave with all of his inheritance immediately. The father agreed, with great consternation. The younger brother left on his adventure, and it was not long before he blew his inheritance on drink and revelry. Hungry because he had no food, no money. He got a job at a pig farm, and saw that the pigs were getting fed better than he was. The younger brother then decided to go back home, humble himself before his father (he was truly humbled, broken, devastated) and apologize; he would take a job as a hired hand. At least he would not go hungry.
When the prodigal son came into view from where his father stood, the father ran to his son with unfathomable gratitude that his lost son was back. He instructed his servants to put together a feast. The (above) painting shows the younger son, the prodigal, in his ragged clothes, humbling himself before his father, expressing his sorrow for being a fool, and leaving home. The older son’s jealousy and anger with his younger brother. The older brother stands to the right in the painting, looking on, with jealous and angry with his younger brother.
Rembrandt painted The Return of the Prodigal Son about two years before his death, suggesting that Rembrandt identified with the Prodigal. Rembrandt died penniless, before his fame could catch up with him.
Other paintings resonate with the theme of The Return of the Prodigal Son, such as “Merry Company” by Gerrit van Honthorst (1623), showing the Prodigal squandering his inheritance.
I refer to hope, in this post, connected to Rembrandt’s painting, simply because the Prodigal found love, acceptance, and a place to belong.
Lastly, I cherish The Return of the Prodigal Son because I am a prodigal. The difference is that I never really returned home. I just made visits. Yet, my father always loved me; always accepted me; always welcomed me.
All of this comes with strange timing. Father’s day is coming up, and I consider that I could have been a better father for my son; as my father was to me. My father is 93, and he recently experienced a fairly serious turn for the worst in the last 48 hours. My brothers and I are hoping for the best. Hope is what we have. Hope emerges from different places, different people, different stories.
Been thinking about that infamous, potentially disruptive, annual, “thing” known as Father’s Day. A bit late to acknowledge this, eh? What was it, two weeks ago? That’s part of it. Something so intense comes around, and the rule is that we say what we need to say on Father’s Day …. Maybe a few days before, maybe a day afterwards.
As for me? Father delayed, and great apologies. Part of it is that things come up in my thinking, my experience, my memories, my disruption, and I just cannot get from “Point A” to “Point B”. Here is an example of what I am talking about. I saw a movie with Chris Farley in it … Maybe the film was “Black Sheep”. Farley is lost in the woods, probably doesn’t realize that he is on the top of a rocky incline. He stumbles, or trips, or both, and tumbles downward over the sloped rocky ground. There are some special effects, I suppose, as it shows this funny man with a healthy girth in slow motion … rising up into the air, and falling back down (again in slow motion). Facial expressions are classic: disorientation and shock. This fall of Farley’s seems to keep going and going. Finally, he stops. He stands up, looks back up the mountain from where he came, hair pointing in 10 to 20 different directions. And then he speaks these words, these profound and thought-provoking words:
“What ‘the hell was that all about?”
So, yeah that was something like my experience this year for Father’s day. Every year I struggle with the images of Father’s Day … I mean, don’t you think … Fatherhood looks quite differently across the board?
Still no grandchildren, nor any grown-up children. So … therefore … I can’t really relate to Steve Martin and the role he plays in “Father of the Bride”.
This is the first part of the Father Delayed series. I’ll crank out the second part as soon as I can. I didn’t realize how much was on my mind about being a dad, and having a dad.