A day for taking stock.
I used to idealize my father. Worship him. How could I fail to? He was the ultra cool, ultra hip, bad motherfucker. He carried guns. He took down bad guys. Got in shoot outs. Left my dumpy mom for a hot, leggy brunette as tall as he was. Rode motorcycles, swung an axe, drove a sports car.
So what if I could only see him a month every summer?
On the flip side, I used to hate my step-father. He worked at a shoe factory. He had two daughters around the same ages as my brother and I. He wore short-sleeved dress shirts and had a pot-belly.
He wasn't going to tell me shit.
And my own failure as a father.
I thought I would be good at it. I thought I was
good at it. I loved a lot about it, and endured what I did not love. I read her to sleep every night I could. I made Peter Rabbit birthday cakes, watermelon ice-cream cakes, bought fairy wings and tu-tus and changed diapers and cleaned up vomit and all that happy horse-shit.
Last father's day I got a letter from her, along with a jailhouse drawing of her mother and I as skeletons in a wedding.
She said she loved me, wished me a happy father's day.
I will probably get another one this year.
I love her, I really do.
But I failed her in all the ways that matter.
We are none of us perfect. And I don't hold a grudge against anyone. I love my dad, faults and all. My step-dad, too. The older I get, the better I can see them, and the more I like them both. Maybe my kid really loves me, underneath it all. Maybe she forgives me, maybe she doesn't hold a grudge. Maybe she doesn't blame me at all.
Right now she is a stranger to me, but that could change.
I bought myself a bottle of vodka for my father's day present. It comes in a glass skull.
How cool is that?
I also took a four hour knife-fighting class, and ordered a custom-made dress shirt from some outfit in China.
So I spend my Father's day weekend fighting and drinking and looking damn
good doing it.
I am not melancholy about any of this. I love my life with a fierceness that takes my breath away. I have earned my failures, my scars, my triumphs and tragedies. It is all of a piece. I am blessed beyond all measure.
So, here's to the men in my life. The busted-up heros. The ones who fight the good fight, and hold back nothing of themselves. You taught me how to love as hard as I hit, and vice-versa.