Sunday, June 19, 2011

Baby Birds and Father's Day

I thought I’d lost this picture, the only picture that I have of the father who raised me. I found it while looking for something else which is usually the way it happens with clutter. (It does seem that I’m becoming obsessed with this subject, doesn’t it?) So why do I have only the one picture of my adopted father amidst the paper clutter in my life? Maybe because of too many moves too early in my life and an apartment fire in Houston that stole everything but our lives, my childhood bible, a few pictures, and a folder of poems I’d written.

Regardless of all hype that a successful blog must have a theme, mine being the first of the baby boomer era, blogs are still online journals. Journaling, by nature, is a journey into one’s self and I think I just might have discovered the reason for my clutter obsession. Maybe I use clutter to hide the void for all that I’ve lost over the years?

This picture of my father, Harry, and I, was taken when I was six, our first summer together. I hope that I was scowling because the sun was in my eyes but I can’t be sure. The transition for both me and my new parents must have been a rough one. My father, a CPA, was 54 when I entered into his life. My husband, Eddie, had already become a proud grandfather by that age. I never knew my father was older than most parents of my friends. In fact, I didn’t learn his age until he died and I thought the newspaper had made a mistake when they wrote he was 64.

It didn’t take long for me to learn to love this new father though. His stern features in this picture, perhaps it was the sun in our eyes after all, masked his gentleness and giant heart. He spent many a frustrating hour trying to teach me math, the term dyslexia unknown to both of us at the time. He never raised his voice even though I’d stomp out of the room yelling, “It’s not fair! I knew the right answer!” And I usually did. Know the right answer somehow. I just couldn’t prove to him how I got to it.

He taught me the love for dogs and all living creatures—except for cats. (I still ended up being a cat lover as well.) He hated cats because they killed birds and he loved birds. I still remember him coming home one day, his broad hands cupped gently over a baby robin he’d found in the alley. He showed me how to nurse the baby bird with an eye dropper. He then showed me how to let the bird we had raised and loved so much go once it learned to fly. The robin returned the next spring, and the spring after that. We always knew it was him when my father whistled and the robin answered with a short song, then flew in low, glazed my father’s shoulder, then flew back into the trees. A few years later he found a baby sparrow and brought it home. I found a baby rabbit whose mother had been killed. He always made sure that once they were strong and able to survive on their own, that we release them back to their world. His time was cut short but he still managed to do the same for me. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

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