Wednesday, July 1, 2015

When Father’s Day Is the First Day of Summer: An Ode to Those Who Fathered Me in my Youth

This year, the first day of summer fell on the 3rd Sunday in June.

Father’s Day, your day, has the most light our year will offer.

As I watch the sun finally concede its end

and transfer the domain of  our world over to the night,

I think about those summer nights,  ♪oh those summer nights♪.

Those summer nights we spent together were as different from Danny and Sandy’s

as the fleeting day is from the fast approaching night.

Instead of chasing that illusive specter I’ve come to know as teenage romance

I spent those nights basking in your love,

Soaking it in as we watched our bobbers float on the end of translucent lines in between lily pads while listening to baseball on a radio powered by D-Batteries.

Not speaking much but saying volumes to each other.

Then later on those summer nights we’d gather lawn chairs into a circle,

So we could watch orange, yellow, and crimson minstrels dance on a stage the that we made of pine, oak, and ironwood.

You’d tell me stories of when you were my age and I’d listen as I roasted marshmallows, drank Sprite, and ate French-onion flavored Sun Chips.

There were those Summer Days too.

We spent them floating in foreign lands where the conifers dwarfed us in size and outnumbered us in population

and it was more likely to see a moose than an unfamiliar face.

There’s the raspberry patch in the backyard

Where I’d act like a baby bird, opening my mouth skyward and chirping

Waiting expectantly for you to gently place those freshly picked berries onto my tongue like a communion wafer.

Earlier yet there’s those summer mornings

When my alarm clock wasn’t an evenly timed electronic beep,

but rather the scent of pancakes and sausage links wafting through my bunk bed.

There’s the cribbage board set between us on a red-and-white-checkered plastic tablecloth

We’d play game after game while being serenaded by the duet of rainfall on the tin roof over our heads and polka music playing in the next room.

These memories and so many others you’ve placed into my hands like seeds to be planted

Some slipped through my youthful fingers and rolled away,

Only to be found flourishing in dusty corners and under half-read books while I’m looking for something else entirely.

Some you helped me plant right away in the fertile soil of my young heart

There they’ve grown and blossomed, producing sweet fruit that begs to be savored and shared.

The rest I’ve kept tucked away safely like precious jewels.

I’m saving them for the hearts of the children I will father

So that your legacy of love will flourish even beyond my lifetime

So, today, on your day, the tipping point of the never-ending, always changing battle between light and dark for the 24 hours we call a day

I simply want to say THANK YOU.

Thank you for being a father to me in the summers of my youth and those beyond.