Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Father’s Day

It's a busy week and a lot has happened since the Father's Day weekend, but I don't want this week to pass without saying a few words about this day when we traditionally acknowledge dads.

Father's Day weekend is the anniversary of Leon's and Aliou's arrival in the United States. I think their actual arrival was June 16th but it was the Saturday before Father's Day in 2007, so their arrival date will always be connected with this occasion in my mind. At the time, I thought it rather perfect that their new father, Michael, was collecting them from Liberia and bringing them to the US on Father's Day. One year later, I had a little encounter with them that elicited a reckoning regarding the celebration of my father.

On Friday, I was hanging out with some of the Tippett kids while Mama went to Modesto, and during lunch I mentioned that Sunday was Father's Day, which caused some confusion for Leon. He thought I was talking about Father Fitzgerald at church whom he calls Father. I tried to explain that Papa is his father too, but not in the same way that Father is a father. Of course, this got us into a conundrum that got even more tangled when I told him that everyone has a father. "My father is your great- grandfather," I said. When he asked, "Where you father," I told him that he had died. This sent him into a paroxysm of worry. Leon worries a lot especially about death and bad guys. It did not help to explain that my father had died 13 years ago, long before he was born. For the rest of the day, he kept returning to the subject of my father's death:

"You father died," he would say, as we sat on the couch reading or walked in the woods.

"Yes, Leon. My father died a long time ago," I'd remind him.

"He in heaven," said Leon.

"Yes, he's in heaven," I'd confirm.

Leon's ongoing concern about my father made me think about Daddy all day. I'm happy that Leon's language confusion and heartfelt inquiries got me thinking about my father. I'm not sure I would have spent as much time remembering my dad if not for Leon's consideration.

Thanks Leon, for helping me remember my dad for Father's Day.

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