In Other Words / A Father’s Day tribute to my dad
My father taught me more about love than any man I know. He did this by example, and I never got around to telling him, because only recently I got around to understanding it myself.
Dad is long gone. He died too young at age 67 — quickly and without prolonged agony. He was at his desk, when his final breath was drawn. It seems fitting that he would leave the world in this way. When I picture him, he’s always at his desk, leaning over his “lawyerly” papers, tending to some legal matter. He was busy. Involved. Attentive. Happy.
Much in the same way, he tended to me, too. Not as legal counsel, but as a father to a daughter, who needed guidance, and perhaps an available ear that was always receptive to whatever “crisis du jour” I was offering up. He was my best buddy — a parent with boundless benefits.
My father was fully engaged in whatever it was that brought me to his study. He was acutely sensitive, reading my moods, intuitively knowing when to advise, or when it was best to retreat. He listened with intense concentration and without distraction.
There was a summer when, at 17, I was recovering from what the French refer to as un coeur bris. My heartthrob, Joey, was about to move away. Romance was in the air when Joey and I professed our undying devotion. I believe the word “eternity” was uttered in between a procession of innocent kisses that went along with our skewed notions of love.
Joey and I parted on a steamy August night when the air was thick with the aroma of honeysuckle, and fireflies flickered over my backyard lawn. We clung to each other with adolescent agony, until my father’s sudden appearance at the back door jolted us back to reality. The sound of the screen door slamming shut, and my dad pointing to his watch, sent Joey running for cover as I disappeared into the house.
A month later, Joey wrote from California saying he had met Amanda to whom he was undoubtedly also professing his undying love, abandoning me to the heartbreak of believing I was doomed to face a life of loneliness and despair.
The fallout of this rested with my father to whom I poured my heart out as I sat in his study, grabbing tissues and bemoaning my fate. He listened, his fingers folded together, as though there was nothing more pressing at that moment than this dramatic breakup and its tragic repercussions.
“I’ll never get over it,” I wailed through a barrage of tears.
Westporter Judith Marks-White shares her humorous views every Wednesday in the Westport News. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at judithmarks-white.com.