Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Man, His Son And Their Laughter

My father died 7 years ago today. In many ways it seems like just yesterday that I lost him, but in other ways, it seems like several lifetimes ago.

Time perhaps makes it a bit easier as all the details of life fill one's days, but the heart aches no less.

Seven years? Really? Wow. And yes, I just doubled checked. Each March 17 I have reflected back on various things that came to mind on this anniversary of his loss in 2003.

March 17, 2005 - Miss You Dad
I had just started this blog and was reflecting on how we "sort of" named our son Alexander in honour of my Dad. I repeat the "sort of" thing with a humour I know Dad would appreciate. I mean, love him as I did, Dad's name was Eugene. But his Dad's name was Alex.

March 17, 2006 - Still Miss You Dad
I'm pretty darned good at consistent naming conventions, aren't I? Is this post I shared a poem I had written for him back in 1996 that I'll share again today.

March 17, 2007 - Dad - Four Years Ago Today
The title of this post proves without a doubt that I can indeed count. Within the post I reflect on a fine fall on Manitoulin Island when I was working on a "father/son" themed novel called Morning Son and had shared some scenes with my Dad. I'm still counting, and the novel is still unsold. (I just got back the latest rejection on it about a month ago - but I'm not giving up on that one. I know if I don't give up it'll eventually find a good home - us writers love abuse; rejection only makes us stronger . . . that's why I was such a force to be reckoned with when I was single and dating - I'd been rejected MORE than anybody around)

March 17, 2008 - And I Miss You Just The Same
This post is filled with pictures of my Dad and me, a brief summary of the day he died (since I re-live it in my head regularly), and a nod to how my Dad always left them laughing. More on that in a bit.

March 17, 2009 - Mourning Son
Last year's post I talked, yet again about the unsold novel, Morning Son (yes, there's no typo here, the title is a play on the words "morning sun" and "mourning son" -- oh how clever I am with words) -- but the really fun thing about this post is that it includes pictures of me and my Dad. They make me smile to look at them, but they make others laugh to see the mullet I was sporting.

And that leads me to a legacy my Dad left me with which I truly cherish.

My Dad loved to make people laugh. Since I admire the man so much, I naturally want to "be like" him or be seen to be like him in many ways. Yeah sure, I have middle age thinning hair and male pattern baldness just like Dad, but gosh darn it all, I want more. If I could possess only one of his skills or talents, it would be that -- make 'em laugh. Continually influenced and inspired by his manner, I do my best to put smiles onto the faces of people where-ever I go, whether it's a quick interaction with a stranger, or yet another chat with a colleague.

The world needs more laughter -- and, since my Dad left this world, and there's one less person making people smile and laugh, I feel it's only right to do my part. It's part of the reason why I chose to poke fun at myself while quietly reflecting on my sadness and loss. If that made just one reader smile, then I've done my job, and I've done my Dad proud.

Okay, and now to the serious stuff -- my (drum roll please) poetry. And no, this isn't the one I claimed to have written about that man from Nantucket.

As I copy and paste (look how hard I'm working here) this poem, I'm glancing at the beautiful artwork from an Ottawa valley artist that Fran and I purchased to give to him with the poem that partially inspired it which hangs in my den above the desk and above this poem, mounted on a gorgeous wooden frame my Dad created. We both channeled our creative energies into the project - I did the writing, Dad made the writing resonate in the beautiful natural presentation of it.

A Man, His Son and Their Dog

A man, his son and their dog
Sit quiet, ever still
They are dark silhouettes against an intense fire-red

display of the waking sun in the eastern sky
The haunting call of a loon in the distance
And a duck flaps its wings, takes flight above the lake
Slicing cleanly through the picturesque scene

The dog whimpers, leans forward, looks askance at the boy

The boy himself turns his head slowly to regard his father
The man nods, smiles, then returns his gaze to the mist
rising off of the lake

In that silent exchange
Against the orange-tinted morning sky
A mutual respect and love are shared
In a way that can never be spoken
But which still carries more power, more beauty

Than any sunset or sunrise
- Mark Leslie Lefebvre, 1996

I cried when I wrote this poem, and I cry every time I read it.

But I smile to think of that powerful, mostly unspoken bond between a father and son. And when I think about both the collaboration this poem represents, as well as the fun times and laughter Dad and I shared, my smile gets bigger and bigger, and the tears are a sadness mixed with laughter.

As I reflect on how Dad made me and others smile and laugh, I realize something crucial about the circle of life. My son makes me smile and laugh multiple times per day. So, no matter how much I try to give back and give that gift to others, it comes back to me two and threefold every single dad.

I'm a blessed man. Rich with smiles, rich with laughter. I have endless pocketfuls of the stuff that I feel is my duty to share with as many people as I can. But, like love, you can never run out of the stuff -- the more you give, the more it returns to you.

Okay, time to go upstairs and wake up my son. Unlike myself and my Dad before me, Alexander isn't a morning person. But when he's particularly hard to wake up, there are tricks I can do to get his attention -- like when I "throw myself" down the stairs. That always gets a rise, and, of course, a laugh out of him. (Kids, don't try this at home - I am, after all, a trained professional in the art of pretending to throw myself down the stairs -- been doing that for decades and haven't broken a limb -- at least yet)

So my son and I will share a quick morning laugh. What a wonderful way to start the day.

I know Dad would have been proud.

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