Books -- reading and writing.
Home, cooking, the weather.
And whatever connections I can make between these chapters of my life.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Writing about Fathers

For a long time, when Father's Day rolled around, I missed my dad. I was just out of college when he died, suddenly and sadly. I missed him on Father's Day. I missed him on Election Days (because he loved to debate local politics with me). I missed him on my wedding day. But that whole time heals all wounds has a bit of truth to it and now I just like thinking about him. So Father's Day seems the perfect time to remember my dad.

He was quite a character- a small town doctor who, it seemed, had set every broken arm and delivered most of the babies in our county. My brother and sister, who live closer to "home" than I do, still meet people who tell them about the time Daddy made a housecall at 3 in the morning, letting himself in the unlocked porch door, just to check on one of his patients. He loved to fish, his only escape from the telephone, and I wrote about the Christmas he surprised us (and tickled himself) with a blindfolded circuitous car trip to a cabin on the lake where he loved to fish. When that essay appeared in Delta Magazine , perfect strangers tracked down my email address to share stories about him. Some of the stories are quite colorful, not to be repeated in polite company. Yes, he was quite a character.

I'm working on another essay, one that started out being about the house I grew up in. We had a store room attached to our carport, filled with all sorts of exotic stuff. The more I wrote, the more I realized that it was really an essay about my father. A few years ago I spent a day with my Writing Group in a workshop led by Phyllis Theroux. In a corner of her notes about "Voice and the Personal Essay," I scribbled Small examples enable you to see the large idea. That's what this essay is turning into. Tiny memories of fish smells and rusty keys hanging on nails are turning into a piece that shows a father's devotion to his family. Now isn't that what Dad's Day should be all about?

1 comment:

Barbara O'Connor said...

Great post, Gusty! (btw, did you read Kerry Madden's essay on Rent linked from my blog yesterday? I think you'd like it.)