broadsideblog

Happy 82d, Dad!

In aging, behavior, children, domestic life, family, life, love, men, seniors on June 11, 2011 at 12:30 pm
A view of Galway Bay from Salthill Credit: A P...

Galway Bay -- full of mussels! Image via Wikipedia

Four score plus two — score!

His father died at 59, just after he retired, so this ripe old age — full of health and friends — is an additional gift for him.

We’d hoped to spend today together, but he’s in Toronto.

As Dads go, he’s been an interesting one. He won the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1962 for a documentary he made about young British rebels.

Here’s his Wikipedia entry!

A documentary film-maker, he was gone for weeks at a time when I was a teenager living with him. But he always brought home intriguing pieces of the world when he returned: Olympic badges in 1964 from Tokyo, elbow-length sealskin gloves from the Arctic and a thick caribou rug, an Afghan rifle case.

All of which ignited my own lust for global discovery and adventure, equally eager to find and tell great stories for a living.

He’s blessed with incredible energy; on our last trip around Ireland, in his 70s, he raced up the hills ahead of me, and set his usual blistering pace. On our cross-country trip when I was 15, knowing I am not a morning person, he’d pretend it was 7:00 a.m. and get me up an hour earlier. We attended pow-wows in Montana and North Dakota, finding a steak and a bag of sugar at our tent door, a gift for everyone attending — he would film and I would sketch.

We’d set up our little tent wherever looked good. One morning we awoke to find a farmer staring down at us from his tractor, as we’d picked one of his fields.

We’ve driven through rural Mexico, picked mussels in Galway Bay, skiied in Vermont, forged through rain across the Great Dismal Swamp, had a terrible shouting match at midnight in Antibes. We’re both driven, ambitious, stubborn, relentlessly curious. After the French fight, we didn’t even speak for years.

Both mad for antiques, we once stood outside two store-fronts in Wilmington, N.C. — one a diner, one an antiques store, torn between the boring need to eat and room full of possible treasures.

As always, he dresses with impeccable elegance: silk pocket square, gleaming lace-up shoes, navy blazer, ties and tattersall. His library, before he sold his house, ranged from archeology and theology to art history. He paints, sculpts, works in silver.

I wrote about him in my new book and was worried he’d be angry at the unexpected loss of privacy, but he was fine with it.

He likes the book a lot. Which, even at midlife, matters to me. Having lost too many years to anger and conflict, I now especially treasure whatever time we have to appreciate one another. It finally feels like he knows me.

For years, I could never find a boyfriend.

My late stepmother finally nailed it: “Your Dad is a hard act to follow.”

True!

Happy birthday, Dad!

  1. This is beautiful Caitlin. I am so glad you and your Dad found peace and relationship again. I am especially happy for you both to have this time together.
    I lived in Ireland for 12 years. It is a beautiful country. I sure would love to get back for a good long visit with friends and travel the country again.

  2. Thanks! Where were you in Ireland? Lucky you!

    Dad had a house near Athenry for a few years and it was great to go over and visit.

  3. This is a really beautiful tribute to your dad and wonderfully written at that. Greetings from Ireland, where it is wet, windy and cold.

  4. A lovely tribute to your dad. You paint a marvelous picture of him. It sounds like he’s led quite an interesting life. Hope he has a great birthday.

  5. Your dad sounds like a real character, and those were some adventures you two had together!

  6. What a great tribute to your dad! Your ability to sketch a picture with words is an astounding gift. I am totally touched by your tribute, and a bit envious of your extraordinary experiences. Thanks for sharing this – I’m sure your dad is filled with pride.

  7. Thanks! We’re lucky to have had the means to travel, the sense of shared adventure and the health to do so.

    It was a fun day for him…he was in Toronto on his birthday (and we’re in NY), but he got to see a large and very positive review of my new book “Malled” in the Globe and Mail that day, so that was pretty cool for both of us.

  8. Just saw this! Where have I been?!! You picked some vivid details to create this tribute out of what must be an inexhaustible supply of stories and memories. Illuminating and colorful portrayals of both of you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 11,813 other followers

%d bloggers like this: