Ever Present; Usually Hidden

My parents were a great-looking couple.  More than their physical appearances – they looked vital, engaging life with much the same grace and rhythm with which they danced.  Something remarkable happened when they entered a room – they flirted and laughed and played and delighted those around them.  They did it differently, for in many respects they had completely individual life constructs and approaches.

photo

And today marks the eleventh year since my dad has been gone.  Eleven attenuated, inexorable years.  Eleven years that have passed before I took another breath.  To say I miss him is a cliché; to diminish that fact would be a lie.  He was my touchstone, the person I sought out when I needed to talk ‘work’ or topics which I held most private.  He brought me up short without hesitation and he delighted in my successes.  He was the most loving role model for my sons when they were little.  If they have integrated any of his values, curiosity, warmth, etc, they are the better men for it.

We listened to John Philip Sousa marches when we went into work together.  He would try to excite me about the book he was reading – whether it was about the life of a cell or the biography of some vague historical figure.  He read the New York Times on the subway, folding the paper in that efficient way that commuters did that allowed them to hold on to an overhead strap simultaneously.  And he would occasionally look over and laugh as he saw me nose-to-armpit with another commuter.  We would always drive in the next day.

The words I spoke at his funeral were buried with him.  Somehow I felt that they really didn’t matter to anyone except him.  And with him gone, there were some thoughts that I would never utter again.  And yet, I speak to him in some way or another every day.

This morning Bill Wooten @ drbillwooten.com posted a poem (re-printed below) that felt like it was meant for today and for me – as if my dad and I were walking down 82nd Street in Jackson Heights, heading for Shelley’s bakery.  As if he were still reminding me to look past that which disillusions me and find the aspect that brings a greater calm.  He is always here though he has been gone for so very long.  He is the lump in my throat.  He is the secret in my heart.  He is the presence I seek in the subtle gestures in each day.

The Invitation

“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.

I want to know what you ache for, and

if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.

I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love,

for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon.

I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow,

if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or

have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain!

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own,

without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own,

if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you

to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be

careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you’re telling me is true.

I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself;

if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.

I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore be trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty every

day, and if you can source your life from God’s presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine,

and still stand on the edge of a lake

and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.

I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair,

weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you are, how you came to be here.

I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.

I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself,

and truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.”  — Oriah Mountain Dreamer, from the book ‘The Invitation’

63 thoughts on “Ever Present; Usually Hidden

  1. Oh, how your father taught. Oh, how you learned, Mimi. Oh, how this poem allows me an honored view into the depths of that wise man. I see why every day with him was a blessing and every day without him is empty in some way. I mark this day with you from Syracuse, my friend. Oh, how the streets of Jackson Heights must have pulsed with his presence!

    • Ah Mark thank you…thank you for ‘getting it’ – I wasn’t sure I was going to this time around. And marking this day with me is gift – as he was. Thank you so much my friend.

  2. Oh sweet friend, what a lovely remembrance of someone who was clearly a special spirit. I love your description of the bond you shared–special, treasured, unique–just like YOU. I know your heart is full of memories, especially on this day, and I hope it helps to know that though I never had the privilege of meeting your father, I feel as though I know him a bit through your eyes.

    “Memories are hunting horns when sound dies on the wind.” Guillaume Apollinaire

    • You and I have spoken of him so often honey, I feel as if he ‘knew’ you too. Certainly he would have loved you as I do. This quote is magnificent, haunting..xox

  3. So beautiful. My father died in 1958 and I still miss him. I was so young my memories are more limited but they still haunt and delight me just as yours do. We are blessed to have had such great noble men in our lives.

  4. This post speaks to me – from the title, to the picture of your parents with a yahrzeit candle in front, to the poem with which you close. The poem, in particular, brought me back to a time when I was the person who felt betrayed, or broken, or grief-stricken, and had to go on – for myself, my family, the children. I like to remember those times (even though my eyes well) because the feelings are so raw and powerful – that they break though the shell of apathy life can create, to remind me, once again, what matters.

    • Hi Wendy – It doesn’t surprise me that this would echo somewhere within you, given the topic of your book!! 😉 That poem resonated with me too – a memory, a reminder, perhaps a haunting…

  5. they are a beautiful couple in every day, that is clear. and how lucky to have someone like your father be the touchstone/model for your sons. i’m so sorry for your loss and i’m so happy for all that you shared with him. best, beth

  6. Not everyone can speak the words you’ve written…..what a blessing to have such a father of depth and influence and love….(I am fortunate to be just as blessed ♥). Beautiful, Mimi, he lives on in you and your children. Every single moment. Thinking of you….hugs ♥

    • Thank you so much – your words envelop me as a safe cocoon. I am blessed – as are my sons. And in my mind, these memories are both a comfort and a source of pride.. I love knowing you are similarly blessed..<3

  7. What a beautiful tribute to your father, Mimi. He sounds like an incredible dad and I can tell just by reading this, what an amazing influence he has been on you. hugs.

    • Hi – he still influences so much of what I do and how I think. And it delights me when I see glimpses of him in my sons. He was quite the guy! Hugs, m

    • Thank you so, so much – these are bittersweet moments, for as much as I miss them, I am always aware of how fortunate I am to have the legacy that they left me. Even with the idiosyncracies that come with the territory, the love eclipses them by far.

  8. What lovely memories you shared with us today. How lucky you were to have such a precious relationship with your father. The poem was beautiful but I must say, Bette Midler singing with such emotion, nearly broke me. Just perfect.

    • Hi Susan – Thank you (and that rendition by Bette Midler gets me every time – and always makes me think of my dad). I was incredibly lucky to have had the relationship with my dad that I did (despite knowing that there were more than enough times when I drove him totally nuts). The greatest blessing was that I valued it when he was alive – which makes me miss him all the more while also feeling a premium of gratitude.

      • My dad and I are also very close. We don’t live near each other but have a longstanding phone date every Tuesday just to catch up. I talk to my mom all the time but she never passed along our conversations. Dad was getting upset and the solution was obvious. As we age, we learn to hold dear these moments for you never know when they will come to an end.

      • Absolutely! I spoke to my dad almost daily – until he became aphasic. And then I spoke to my mom daily to help fill the gap that his lost voice left. Not sure I did a great job of it, for one voice hardly replaces another, but it was important for me to do that – for him, her and me. I love that you have a ‘chat date’ with your dad – these are unforgettable moments in our life. They last far longer than the call.

  9. i knew you’d take to the road today. I am somewhat speechless and unable to type through the tears. We, fatherless daughters of good or great men, know the meaning of “loss”. So, Mimi, I’d like to write a novel here, but between your perfect words and the poem l would fall short. So, I will leave you with 4 things to use today, tomorrow and/or whenever you need them most; cyber hugs to warm you, my love to the moon and back all there is, the “knowing” of what a great dad he was and how much he loved you. And, continues to do so wherever he may be.
    Amen to all you have written today. May his memory be for a blessing

    • How wonderful it is for me to know that you ‘knew’ him Jo…and know of whom I write. It adds such dimension to my memories..Thank you for such loving gifts today and everyday…to the moon and back. xo

  10. It is interesting how your words affected me. Mimi. My Dad passed in February 2013. I didn’t speak at his memorial service. I chose to keep my thoughts to myself and to share them with him privately. There are times before and following his death I wish I could have raved about him, as you so beautifully do about your Dad.

    Yet I know, for me, it will be my Mom’s passing that will utterly shatter me (and so many others). An impending loss that I know I will forever be with me. For ours is a connection, I suspect, akin to the love and life you shared with your Dad. I (something I rarely do) dread speaking at her life celebration and then writing tributes such as yours, thereafter. The strength that you must have summoned to share your deep feelings with us is laudable and much appreciated by this writer.

    Thank you for helping me realize who and what is still, so very significant in my life. Your words were/are touching.

    • My mom passed away a year and a half after my dad Eric – and I have written about that as well. I’m not sure if it is strength or a feeling that something within me has to be released, I must do something to honor a day that left me forever changed. And each year as these days approach, I feel a twisting in my heart, an unsettled feeling in my stomach – that is only calmed when I give myself over to thoughts about my parents. That your mom is still here is a blessing in and of itself and the love you express towards her speaks to a relationship that is worthy of being cherished – now and in the future. Thank you for your generous comments and the heart with which they were written.

  11. Mim…it is a day to celebrate the man that shared his love, his wisdom, his ‘being’, with as willing, grateful, and loving a daughter as you are. I don’t know why, can’t explain the reason, but the first line had me tearing, and each line thereafter led to the waterfall that flows now. I am so thankful to your father, unknown to me, because he was the wind beneath your wings. You are such an impressive person…I can believe that he is as much a part of who you are as I know mine is as great a part of who I am. I read the words…and cry. Not from the loss, which is so great, but from the knowing the feelings you have, so deeply ingrained yet so close to the surface, are as important to you as the air you breathe. I could feel ridiculous for these tears…could understand some thinking them overly dramatic…but I don’t. I am absolutely clear on why I cry and why I love you the way I do, and your father for nurturing such a soul. God bless him Mim…and God bless you. Always xoxo

    • I thought of you after I posted this WW – of you and Supe – your amazing relationship and how much you delight in each other. And the tears come again – for the serendipitous blessings we received in having fathers so loved and who loved us so hard in return. And how can there not be tears when the words don’t suffice, when the heart is so full? Love you Rhon and love Supe – for all you are to each other and those around you…xoxo

  12. This was a heart felt tribute to your father and it touched me deeply.
    For those of us fortunate to have had good parents, they and the memory of them are to be treasured.
    I lost my Dad fairly young. I treasure every day I still have with my mother who is 87.
    The version of the song by Bette Midler was superb.

  13. Just reading yesterday’s Karma Truck today. Yesterday was the anniversary of your dad’s passing (11th) & it was my dad’s birthday (89th). He passed away in January and he too is the “lump in my throat.”

  14. 10 years this year. You never get over it. That, my friend, is a lie. You just. Get. Through. It.

    I am comforted that it is his arms I will fall into when I cross Heaven’s threshold .. MJ

  15. So touching Mimi. Such a wonderful relationship and treasure in your life.
    Your memories are heart warming and connect us all to be with you in this time of reflection, gratitude and loss.
    Soul mates are forever … and ever after.
    Val x

  16. He lives on, in you. I see it in the photo you shared (beautiful man, beautiful you, beautiful them) and mostly in this –

    As if he were still reminding me to look past that which disillusions me and find the aspect that brings a greater calm. He is always here though he has been gone for so very long. He is the lump in my throat. He is the secret in my heart. He is the presence I seek in the subtle gestures in each day.

    -what he was for you, you are to others.

    Lucky girl, lucky dad. Thank you for sharing some of the magic. xoxo

  17. if ever a lover/friend/human spoke those words – wow. This is so all you need to know. The sentiment about whether or not Life’s betrayals had made “you” hard totally made me cry. The whole of it–the can you be alone with yourself, can you experience pain, and just let that be…it is amazing. You find the most amazing things–and so does Bill–I will for sure go “tell” him. GB, MiMI. You are awesome.

    Wait. The prose that leads into this is as delicately penned as scrimshaw might be worked–although not in ivory, please.

    • The whole of it – exactly – the poem say sit all and then some more. It grabbed me and still refuses to let go…
      Thank you for the high praise of the words that preceded the poem – and yes, never ever on ivory, I promise.

  18. We have that in common, as I lost my father eleven years ago as well. I miss him every day of my life, and think of his love for us, his devotion to Mom, and his intelligence and wit. Touching post. I am now following.

    Jennifer

    • Thanks Jennifer – It’s truly bittersweet. How blessed to have had a dad so special and how much it hurts to have him no longer here…
      I’m now following you too (though I could only do so by clicking the button on the top – is there a widget in place so that I could click that and have it show up in my inbox?

  19. I sometimes am a ‘rambling’ woman, I run out of time to check the people’s posts I used to read daily. I am sorry that I wandered, but I feel like I am home again. Your parents’ photograph is lovely, your sentiments are really appreciated such a loving family tribute here. I lost my Dad in 2001, before the year hardly had started. It seems like yesterday, but there are times it seems like forever since we had a chance for he and I to hug, laugh and talk together. Thanks for this!

  20. How lucky we are, those of us who have had good and loving parents. And their nurturing has made us stronger through times of trial. There is something of them that continues to live within us, even when they’re gone. And we hope to convey much of what was most precious to our children in turn. I watch my grandchildren, some of whom are young adults today, and sense that they live in a world very different from the one I grew up in… but there is a sense of continuation. My best wishes to you, Mimi. I have the feeling that your father is still with us.

    • Indeed Shimon, lucky and blessed to have had such loving, wonderful parents. As I await the birth of our first grandchild, I have been thinking more and more about the huge impact my parents also had on my sons. And yes, I hope and pray my dad is still with me – from your mouth to G-d’s ears.

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