Monday, June 18, 2007

Father's Day

Not much has ever been made of Father's Day in my family... patriarchs going back to my great-grandfather (and probably before) have been men of few and carefully chosen words. Chit-chat has never been a strong suit, so an arbitrary Father's Day phone call would go something like,

"Hi Dad, happy Father's Day!"

"Thank you!"



Whereas a call to ask my dad a question about carpentry would be much more engaged and satisfying for both parties.

That being said, I really appreciate all of the values and wisdom my dad imparted upon me growing up and all of the things he continues to do for me, and I try to make sure he knows it. Like most sons who love and admire their fathers, I've always wondered how I could possibly measure up to the things mine has done in his lifetime. I don't mean that in the "nothing I do is ever good enough for him" sense; he has always been tremendously supportive of anything I take an interest in. When I think about measuring up, I'm asking myself the question, "What are you doing with your life?"

I often think about measuring up to my grandfather, too. He passed away a little over three years ago after a battle with Alzheimer's disease, and one of my life's few regrets is that I never got to have a meaningful conversation with him as an adult; his last six good years happened to be the ones that I was living on the other side of the country, and so that opportunity slipped away. My grandfather was a minister of the United Church of Christ, author of a couple of books and a generally well-respected man. Although my father has remained active in the church, singing in choir and sometimes serving on the board, I have drifted away from organized congregation. I have never really abandoned my faith, but it just hasn't manifested itself in a way that compels me to observe it in a church. I really wish I could talk with Grandpa about that. I never had a religious conversation with him that I can recall, which may sound strange... he was a minister, but while his calling may have defined much of his life, it did not usurp it. The time he spent with his grandchildren was not used evangelically.

I spent Saturday afternoon with most of my family at our summer cottage. It's been in my family for about 100 years... my grandfather spent entire summers there both as a boy and as an adult, and his spirit is everywhere. I don't mean to suggest he is haunting it. Since he passed away, though, it usually feels like he's there too, enjoying the company... and when the breeze set one of the empty porch chairs rocking a little bit it was that much easier to imagine.

I told my dad I had applied to join the Masons, and although he was surprised, he was not as dismissive as I remembered him being years ago. When I told him a little bit about Freemasonry, he was in fact pretty interested. It will be interesting talking to him about my experiences over the next year or so.

In Freemasonry, I feel as though I might have found part of the answer to the question, "What are you doing with your life?" Not the entire answer - but maybe a lens to help bring the rest of the picture into focus. I hope to make my father and my grandfather proud.

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