It is the season of Father’s Day commercials. When I see Macy’s advertising a snazzy men’s outfit, it bites a bit. My father is long gone. It will always be a difficult loss. But, now, when it is June, and Father’s Day is on the calendar, I turn to the memories and stories of fathers passed. Though I did not know any of my grandfathers in real life, I am full of stories about them, too. In this way, I celebrate the contributions of the fathers gone in my family.
A favorite story about my Dad comes from the dark mustache he always wore. Well, he almost always had it; there was just this one exception. One day, my younger sister burned her upper lip while waxing. On that day, my father shaved his mustache. While the rest of his plump face shone with a gold sun-kissed look, that tiny space of the upper lip on his face was unusually clean. It was white and looked a bit neglected after years of hiding under a tuft of black hair. His turf of white against a glowing smile was unmistakably odd. My Dad, in his self-effacing style, created a diversion. When we out to our community gathering that night, instead of focusing on my sister’s upper lip, our friends noticed where his mustache had been. He looked a bit goofy like this, without his mustache.
It was doubly funny, when you compared that space with his eyebrows. While his mustache was normally trimmed and well-groomed, Dad’s eyebrows were like hairy caterpillars on his face. Some strands of hair were much longer than the rest; like silver arms they rose from his face. No photo could ever capture the way those silvery hairs moved as he talked. The caterpillars jiggled with each expression. Those benevolent crawlers contrasted against this smooth upper lip. His smile, that day, held a sweet and mischievous look, knowing that he was carrying away someone else’s embarrassment.
On Father’s Day, I am reminded that there isn’t anything for sale that could meet the vivacity of my memories of the past. When is the last time you actually talked about family memories?
In nourishing these moments, remembering them and reflecting on them, the people from my past can come alive. Those stories which I remember, and those which are shared with me, are living in picture frames inside of my heart. It is in these moments that we can relish and respect the past. These stories are how we can share with the next generation the influences that shaped us. It is in these recollections that the spirit of our grandfathers and fathers can live on.
Happy Father’s Day, folks!