Editor’s Letter: To My Father July 2004

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My father died this winter. To say we didn’t share the closest of relationships is an understatement. I don’t ever remember him shedding a tear or giving me a hug. We never talked about anything other than the practical things in life; being touchy-feely was not in his DNA. I had never considered my father to be a role model. But I’ve come to see how significantly, (though invisibly) he influenced my life. While Velvetpark is here to serve and extol the virtues of the Women who inspire us, support us, and educate us, I would like to take this moment to acknowledge the men who have helped shape our lives.

My father was a grin-and-bear-it kind of man. He “taught” my sister and I how to swim by taking us to the beach and ordering us to swim out into the open Pacific Ocean to a pier and back. He enrolled me in a co-ed basketball league in which I was the only girl. On weekends, he took us hiking and camping, and taught us to play tennis.These activities were not meant to be fun; they were regimented disciplines. He did not want to raise ‘girly girls.’ Needless to say, I spent my childhood trying to avoid my dad. When my parents divorced, I was actually relieved. I was ten years old at the time. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I began to understand who my father was.

Despite his rigid attitudes, he always supported our pursuits, whether it was earning a higher education, or traveling the world. Although I was a struggling artist in New York, he never asked me when I was going to get a secure job; his main concern was that I continue painting, no matter what. While he never acknowledged the fact that I was a lesbian, he also never asked me when I was going to get married. He expected his children to define themselves on their own terms, irrespective of the partners they might choose.Meaning in life for my father was not found in the comforts of a conventional life or in materialistic concerns, but in the fulfillment of one’s passions.

Sitting in my apartment in Brooklyn on the morning of Sept 11, 2001, after I had phoned my sister in the Bronx and my brother in Queens, I called my father in California, who had not yet heard the news. When he realized what I was telling him, he said “Okay, but WE are all safe.” And that was all he needed to know. It was a little window into the soul of a man who saw his family as an integral part of his being.

I saw that he had an enduring devotion to us. His love was expressed not in a hug, a kiss or in the words “I love you,” but by his sheer existence. A month before he died, while my dad was in the hospital, my sister and I were cleaning out his house when my sister came across a few old magazines. She held them up and asked me, “Did you know our father published a magazine?” I had not known. I had the good fortune of being present the night my father died. I was there at the end to see that praise and blame cancel each other out, and our death becomes the summation of our lives.

In Sanskrit there is a short blessing which simply says “Peace. Peace. Peace.”
Om Shanti. Shanti. Shanti.
Summer 2004 issue no 7

Comments [1]

anna's picture

moon, you probably won't read

you probably won't read this. because it's a comment for an old post. and you are busy, busy, busy.
but i wanted to leave a note here saying that this moved me.
thank you for having it on this site.

my best,