A few years back I bought some Concord grapes at the market. I hadn’t tasted them in years and surprised myself as the flavorful berry burst in my mouth and I burst into tears. My father had cultivated Concord grapevines up the side of our garage, when I was a kid. My memory of him was apparently inside that grape. He passed away when I was 13, so my recollection is gauzy…much like peering out from behind the bee nets we would wear to harvest our honey. He was a beekeeper, among other things. As a physician and small plane pilot, he had served as a flight surgeon in the Army. He was a wood-worker, a craftsman, and gardener. He was the father who had nurtured me until I became a teenager, and then was gone. As an adult I realize, now, that I missed out on truly getting to know him as a person, as only grown children can know their parents. My insight comes from the clues I collected over the years. He was an eccentric for sure, to house 5 stacked beehives in an urban ¼ acre backyard. I remember him reading constantly, many books at the same time, and the thousands of books in our home were a testament to his love of them. I discovered the mysterious root of my wanderlust when I found his massive collection of adventure travel books. He was an armchair traveler, and that took me around the world.
I missed that feeling of security that having a father allows you. Some umbrella of protectiveness shut with his loss; I so envied those who had that. Truth be told, I still do. A father’s strong love is unique.
In time, I was fortunate to gain an amazing father-in-law. He is also a renaissance man, a physicist, artist and author. Most importantly, he is father to my husband, also a renaissance man in his own right, and my equally amazing sister-in-law. I can see how his influence has nurtured them both. With the advent of our own children, these two new fathers in my life give us so much to celebrate on Father’s Day.
On a string I kept one of the enameled hearts my dad had made as party favors to give my friends on my 12th birthday. Now I watch my own 12 year old daughter with my husband, as they tease each other and laugh.
I try to reach back to find those memories of that age to see him through her lens. I know how lucky my children are to have such an amazing father and grandfather in their lives. As we prepare to celebrate Father’s Day, no matter where your father is , or what your relationship may be, take this day to cherish just having him in this world.
Now when I eat Concord grapes I know what to expect ,and I let my beautiful memories flood back in.