Grandpa came to visit around Halloween, back in 1961. You can see the three year old Borepatch (center), with older brother, father, and Grandpa. You can see what this visit meant to three year old Borepatch.Act 2. A post about my sons:
Grandpa lived pretty far away. It was a long trip from Kansas to Ohio back then, especially for him, but he came as often as he could. It wasn't enough for a three year old, but he did what he could. Grandma had died before I was born, and he lived alone. I hope it was a real treat for him when he came to visit - I know that it was for me.
His last visit was at Christmas, 1963, and when he left to go home, I was simply inconsolable. One of my most treasured possessions is a letter he wrote to me when he got home. He wasn't an educated man, or a wordsmith, but I think it was the first letter I ever received. There is something tangible about an object that was touched - created, really - by someone else. This only exists because someone cared enough about someone to make it.
Grandpa died 23 days later. I never wrote him that letter, until now. Hope to see you again some day, Grandpa.Fredonia, KanDear Borepatch,
Jan 6 - 64
Here is a letter just for you. Your daddy said how you felt about Grand Pa going home. Well I was upset too a few tears wet my cheeks too. You know big boys can cry, too, don't you? Well maybe some day we can live closer to each other and can see each other more often.
You are lucky to have a sled. If you were here you would have to use your wagon for no snow has fallen since I got home. It has been cold but no storm since before Xmas. Snow left mostly the day before Xmas.
I am having a cold the last 2 days now. Sure makes me feel tough. Well, boy you have all your folks to be glad with and Grand Pa has no one. Well, will see you again some day. Write me a letter when you can.
I am still, Grand Pa
Act 3. An email from Dad:
(Click to embiggen - #2 Son when he was 3)
Summer's end means back to school time. Kids and parents - us included - are caught up in the moment, and forget the longer view. Watching your children grow should make you think of how you grew. Watching your children grow should make you think of your parents, watching you grow. Watching your children grow should make you think of them, watching their children yet-to-be-born grow.
Time is a great river, never quite still in its flow. It's easy to get all caught up in the action in the eddy of the moment, and not see the flow towards the sea.
It was on the occasion of me sending him this picture of him with #1 Grandson:
And this one, too, of him with #2 Grandson:
But especially this one:
We'd been out visiting, and the kids had wanted to get him some of the music they were listening to. They gave him a Kamelot CD, which is on his desk to this very day:
Your package arrived today, Monday. It is possible that mail still arrives in Albuquerque via stage coach along the Santa Fe Trail.Act 4. Father's Day, 2011
Your gift was such a thoughtful way for us to make a connection. I like it very much and will think of you every time I look at it. I also really liked the card. I could bring up in my mind's eye your [6 year old] entrance down the stairs on Pond Street as Superman. See what all that kryptonite did for you?
I have continued to write "Stories for the Borepatch Children" and an appropriate one is attached. Right now we are listening to Kamelot. Tell your sons that they sound to us like symphonic metal, and they are OK.
This is the first Father's Day I've had without Dad. It's also the first I've had without my boys around. Somehow, I get the feeling that this will be the normal state of affairs soon.
But the strange realization is that I'm not alone. The immediate and literal part of that is that Pistolero and Sabra have generously invited me to share his Father's Day with them, but the spiritual realization is that I have Grandpa, Dad, and the kids already as a part of me. I think that this is what Father's Day is really about - not the grilling, or the loud neckties as gifts from eager young fashionistas, but of knowing your place in the flow of history. Of looking back, and looking forward through the generations.
Of feeling the motion of time, but also - just for a single, glorious day - of feeling the immobility of your own place in that flow. Of thinking how your Dad and Grandpa felt that same moment of immobility. Of thinking how your sons - if they are lucky - will some day feel it, too.
Your children are not your children.Of thinking how maybe all that Kryptonite paid off.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the Archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
- Kalil Gibran, The Prophet