The Living Years: Father’s Day Thoughts

Every generation

Blames the one before

And all of their frustrations

Come beating on your door


This is the song that goes through my head when I think about my father, before, and especially after he passed away almost 5 years ago.   He was never one to recognize holidays, whether personal or societal.  There just seemed to be a chasm of misunderstanding, with no hope of reconciling where the other is coming from.  Not that I was allowed to have an opinion that conflicted with his.  For so many years, I couldn’t wrap my head around his thought process, the conclusions that he’d come to, or his responses to the world around him.


I know that I’m a prisoner

To all my Father held so dear

I know that I’m a hostage

To all his hopes and fears

I just wish I could have told him in the living years


I look back at my adolescence, and can’t help but wonder where I dodged a bullet, even though at the time I felt like I was in front of a firing squad.  My father grew up in a radically different age than I did, and tried to prepare me for the world he grew up in, except that the existence that he knew had changed.  Reaching adulthood in the height of the Civil Rights conflict, and entering the Armed Services, he was buffeted by forces he had no control over, judged by his skin color, and battling his own inner demons that he denied the existence of, he struggled in a world where your color determined not only your future, but your children’s future as well.


Crumpled bits of paper

Filled with imperfect thoughts

Stilted conversations

I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got


I avoided conversation with him, not as a denial of his experiences, but rather as a way to deflect the bitterness they had left in him along with his own self-hatred.  I’d listen to his stories of places he’d been, and people he’d known.  I’m not talking ordinary people that you might meet at the gas station in your local town.  Famous people he’d said he’d met.  But that makes no difference, I didn’t want to know why he was the way he was.  Not until later.  Not until later.


You say you just don’t see it

He says it’s perfect sense

You just can’t get agreement

In this present tense

We all talk a different language

Talkin’ in defense


He was unable to understand how I could automatically seem to trust someone I was friends with, and I was unable to comprehend not seeing anything good in those I surround myself with, including my family.  I heard many diatribes against relatives, groups, individuals for mistakes they’ve made, negative actions, or just general malevolence.  I’ve never been able to understand that level of hatred with no recourse to back it up.  My experiences are not his, and neither are my expectations, despite his better efforts.


Say it loud, say it clear

You can listen as well as you hear

It’s too late when we die

To admit we don’t see eye to eye

So we open up a quarrel

Between the present and the past

We only sacrifice the future

It’s the bitterness that lasts

So don’t yield to the fortunes

You sometimes see as fate

It may have a new perspective

On a different date

And if you don’t give up, and don’t give in

You may just be O.K.

Say it loud, say it clear

You can listen as well as you hear

It’s too late when we die

To admit we don’t see eye to eye

I wasn’t there that morning

When my Father passed away

I didn’t get to tell him

All the things I had to say

I think I caught his spirit

Later that same year

I’m sure I heard his echo

In my baby’s new born tears

I just wish I could have told him in the living years


I was in Basic Training, counting down the days to graduation, when my dad would drive down to see me, when I got the phone call.  I’d had a lot of conflicting emotions over the years about my father, but in the end I loved him, and I miss having a father, even if my father didn’t always do what was best for me as I would see it, he did what he thought was bet to protect me.

A month or two later, my brother tells me he’s going to be a father.  We joked about which gender would determine which side of karma this would fall on.  I wasn’t worried for a second about him as a father.  There was no doubt in my mind that what ever child he had would be raised well, and completely opposite of the head space that my father generated with us.  This was a consensus among siblings and in-laws that shared similar experiences.

I can only be thankful for the fathers in my family, and those that aren’t, who won’t let any detriments that have placed in their lives prevent them from raising children free of the burdens and pain that they were subjected to, and take their responsibilities well in hand.

Happy Father’s Day.


Say it loud, say it clear

You can listen as well as you hear

It’s too late when we die

To admit we don’t see eye to eye

Say it loud, say it clear

Say it loud

Don’t give up

Don’t give in

And don’t know what you can do next


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