Sunday, June 20, 2010


"It doesn't matter who my father was;
 it matters who I remember he was."
- Anne Sexton

I never gave my father a tie. 
I gave him crossword puzzles.
He was creative and intelligent with a fine sense of humor. 
A tall, slender beautiful Viking of a man.

He and I enjoyed the same things (except fishing), laughed at the same jokes, 
did crossword puzzles and enjoyed creating things. We were very much alike but never really close. When I was little, he made me a tree house, later he planted peach trees, grew strawberries and grapes in our garden and worked very hard to give us a nice home and a good education. He made wine from his grapes and built his own workshop where he polished gemstones (tawny topaz, milky jade). He raised chinchillas and chickens and built elaborate trellises for the grapes and flower boxes for my mother.

As a child I’d go to the end of the drive and wait for him to come home from work. We’d drive back to the house in companionable silence. He never took me to an art gallery, a museum, never taught me to drive or write a check, never came to any school events. He was always working.

Sometimes he took the family fishing. We all hated fishing, especially me. 
Yet I think he loved me in a faint, unstated way. 

Do we really need the words to know we’re loved? I knew by the look in his eyes when I told him about things that were important to me, when we shared a moment on the backyard steps eating yogurt which my mother and brother didn’t like, when we watched cricket together, which my mother and brother also didn’t like.

When I left home to go college and subsequently, work, he never came to visit me. But he was always thrilled to see me when I went home for a weekend. 
I think he was terribly shy. And lonely.

His was a pale, ethereal type of love. Very distant, not demonstrative, barely perceptible, really. Nowhere near enough, but it was there.



MOLLYC said...

This is beautiful. So interesting, sharing memories of our fathers. He was very handsome, indeed. My father loved to go fishing also. I hated baiting the hook. Have a wonderful day. love to you. molly

Exmoorjane said...

Oh crikey, that is very lovely. Is there such a thing as perfect love, I wonder? jxxx

Nora Lumiere said...

Thanks Molly!

Thanks, Jane!
No more perfect love after you grow up and know too much, I think.

Rebecca Sutherland said...

Does it really matter that he didn't do all those things with you? For you to have written this piece means he got some of it right! More than some are able to manage.

Nora Lumiere said...

My father got a lot wrong, but I choose to remember those glimpses of love.

Patrick Baty said...

I was greatly moved by this, especially as a father.

Nora Lumiere said...

I'm very touched. Thank you.

Pouncen said...

This was beautiful, heartfelt, and one of the best blog entries I have ever read. Your father reminds me of my grandfather, one of the best fly fishermen ever. He tried to teach me to fish, but I always felt terrible because I was hurting the bait and the fish both.

Nora Lumiere said...

Thank you, P!

Clare Dudman said...

Beautiful, Nora!

I particularly like the last paragraph, but it's all great.

Nora Lumiere said...

Thank you very much, Clare!