Posts Tagged ‘Father’s Day’

Letter From Claverack 06 19 2017 An Attitude of Gratitude

June 19, 2017

It is the evening of June 19th; Father’s Day is beginning to fade as is Pride Weekend in Hudson.


An on again, off again rain falls and an hour or two ago the sky was nighttime dark.  Cosseted in the cottage, a martini by my side, I watch the raindrops splatter on the Claverack Creek.

It’s interesting.  I was very sensitive over the weekend, a little raw.  When I woke Saturday, I was in an unexpectedly foul mood and at the end of the day I took myself home and had a talk with myself.

I felt raw because it was Pride weekend and I woke acutely aware that I am not part of a unit and that I haven’t been very good at dating.  The last one felt like I had entered a reality version of Sartre’s “No Exit.”

I am alone and normally it doesn’t bother me and over the weekend it did.  Hudson is a town of couples and I am not coupled, which puts me at a bit of a disadvantage. You’re the odd one at the dinner party.

And, then, Sunday, it was Father’s Day.  Always a hard day for me.  I did not have a great relationship with my father.  He was good to me the first few years and then, he wasn’t.  The last seven years of his life he had almost nothing to say to me.  The night before he died, I was being a squirrely twelve-year-old and he angrily sent me to my room.

It was the last exchange I had with him.  The next morning, he had a stroke and died.  So, I have spent my life trying to read the runes of the little time I had with him.

Okay, so it’s problematic.  Parental relationships are problematic.  Maybe mine a little more than others and mine probably a lot less than others, too.

It’s just it pops up on Father’s Day.

And I know so many good fathers; I sent text messages to them today.  My godson, Paul, among them.  He has two children, a girl, Sophia, and a boy, Noah.  I don’t know them well and know enough to know they are interesting children and that’s because they have wonderfully invested parents.

And then there is Tom Fudali, who is Paul’s father, who made me Paul’s godfather and I am eternally grateful for that because Paul is not my son and he is my godson and our relationship is something I had hoped for and didn’t think would happen and has.

And there is my friend, Robert Murray, father of five, who exchanged texts with me while watching his son, Colin, play soccer in New Windsor.  Robert reminds me of my oldest friend, Sarah’s, father, John McCormick, who had six children and made their home the place to be.  On bitter Minnesota winter nights, the neighborhood would gather and skate on the rink in John’s backyard.  They are some of my most magical childhood memories.

And then there is Kevin Malone, Sarah’s son, who has always thought of me as his uncle even though I am not actually his uncle but we have an avuncular relationship that is so effing wonderful!  He is not a father and he is wonderful and is a jewel in my life.

So, I was being self-indulgently depressed, and I need to focus in on all the wonderful things which go on in my life and all the wonderful people who are in it.

In the craziness that has been in my mind this weekend, I am so glad I wrote this as it reminds me of all the things for which I need to remind myself that I need to have an “attitude of gratitude.”

In Memoriam:

I read today that Stephen Furst had died.  He gained fame in “Animal House” as Flounder, went on to “St. Elsewhere” and “Babylon Five” and directed movies and television shows.  For a time, in the 1990’s, we were friendly.  He was a gracious, gentle soul, doing his very best in life.  RIP. I remember you fondly.

Otto Warmbier, the young student returned from North Korea in a coma, has passed away.  It is heartbreaking. At least he was at home, with family.


Letter From New York 06 21 15 Father’s Day, International Day of Yoga and Summer Solstice…

June 21, 2015

Today is Father’s Day. Happy Father’s Day to all fathers who might be reading this…

It’s a grey day in New York. I’m on the train down to the city where I will be attending a play in Riverside Park at the Police and Firemen’s Memorial near 89th and Riverside, a mere four blocks from the apartment in New York. A friend invited me to join her and her family and friends and I committed to it a while ago.

My own father passed away when I was twelve years old. He was a quiet, reclusive sort of man around the house, preferring to putter every evening in his basement woodworking shop to almost anything else. He maintained a golf course perfect lawn, was well liked at work. He managed a commercial bakery in Minneapolis, owned by American Bakeries; at the time it was the second largest commercial baking company in the world. American made Taystee Bread, “baked while you sleep.” The largest baking company was Continental; they made Wonder Bread.

We were not close the last six years of his life. He became more withdrawn. His health faded following two heart attacks. While recuperating, he played endless games of solitaire in the den, at the desk facing the window; playing cards and watching the world go by. Like him, I have a fondness for the game.

He and my mother were in a very rough patch of their marriage, though I only realized that later, with the wisdom that comes from growing older and ruminating on what has passed, coupled with conversations with my older brother and sister.

The night before he died, I was being a squirrely twelve year old. He was annoyed and told me to go to my room. It was our last encounter. In the morning, he suffered a massive stroke and was gone in minutes.

Over the intervening years, I have grown to have appreciation for him. He did his best with me, given what was going on with him and I now credit him for that. Rest in peace, dad, and Happy Father’s Day.

Today is the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice; from now on the days grow shorter until the Winter Solstice. That’s a little depressing but there is still some time before the days grow short.

Today was chosen by India to celebrate International Yoga Day and all over the world Yoga is being practiced to mark the occasion. My friend, Raja Choudhury, created the official Indian Yoga Film, which is being shown at Indian Embassies around the world.

In Charleston, SC the Emmanuel AME Church has reopened for services after last Wednesday’s massacre. To me it is a sign of resilience and hope that they are worshiping there today.

Just about now, Greece’s creditors are having a meeting in Brussels in advance of an emergency meeting tomorrow to see if there can be a resolution of the Greek debt crisis. Tsipras, Greece’s Prime Minister, flies there tonight after meeting with his cabinet on a “definitive” proposal to their debtors.

Tsipras has also been playing footsie with Vladimir Putin, who says he might consider a loan to Greece. It’s been seen by many as a mutual attempt to thumb noses at Europe and unlikely to happen. But stranger things have happened in Putin’s Russia.

Shortly, I will be off to see the play in Riverside Park. The grey and threatening day seems to have given way to sun and breezes, the air heavy after the night’s rain. It is Henry IV, Part 1 by Shakespeare. I had a small part in it when I was in college.

Right now, I am chilling the white wine in the freezer with a timer set so I don’t forget it. I am bringing strawberries, cherries, cheeses, apples and some bread from yesterday’s Farmer’s Market in Hudson. It should make a good repast. There will be five or six of us.

I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.

Letter From New York June 20, 2010

June 20, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

As I worked through things at the office on Friday, I saw online that Tony Hayward, CEO of BP, had been removed from the frontline of dealing with the oil spill. His gaffes finally caught up with him. In front of Congress on Thursday he was accused of not taking responsibility and evading questions. He didn’t play well, not in Congress and apparently not in his own company and now the odds makers are taking bets on how long he will survive at BP.

The oil is, of course, still gushing and, according to revised estimates, gushing at rates far greater than previously estimated, a rate that keeps going up and up, discouragingly so, day after day, week after week.

There is the Gulf Oil disaster and new questions about our direction in Afghanistan even as reports are circulated about the potential mineral wealth there; some question the timing of this announcement since there has been knowledge of these deposits all the way back to the time when the Soviets were attempting to subdue the country.

An American teenager was attempting to be the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe ran into trouble in the Indian Ocean and had to be rescued. Her parents took a beating in the press for letting her pursue this dream – but the real problem may have been they had been attempting to sell a television program based on her quest. It didn’t play well.

The Israelis are still sorting the fallout from their actions stopping a Turkish flotilla that wanted to break the blockade of Gaza. There is talk of lightening the blockade as it is not playing as well as it had been.

The World Cup is playing out and Americans are paying more attention to it than ever before, particularly after the lucky tie of the US vs. Britain. Had lots of folks in my office excited. In more places than ever before, the World Cup is on the television, background in some bars and restaurants, catering to the growing numbers invested in the sport. It is playing well.

These are world events, playing out on the world stage, the affairs that shape the headlines and the national discourse. But in my life, and in the lives of all of us, these are the backdrop to our lives, to getting up in the morning, having coffee, plotting the day and then reacting to the things that happen to us, making sense of the “ordinary” developments we face in our own lives – the tensions in the office, the loss of those we know and love when they pass, the pressure of being in Place A at Time B for a meeting about C.

All of that hit me on Thursday when I learned that Andy Doyle, my sister-in-law’s brother, whom I have known since I was twelve, about my age, lost his fight to a rare brain ailment. He was a good kind man, a former priest, who came to celebrate Thanksgiving with me a few years ago, full of wry jokes and witticisms and intelligent conversation. His passing will not be splashed on front pages and, like most of us, will not effect world events but for those of us who knew and loved him he will be missed and a hole has opened in our worlds. The great events play out as backdrop to our ordinary lives, “small” according to the Chairman of BP, but central to our lives and more important immediately to our lives than the faraway front-page headline events. It is how it plays in real time, in real life.

And playing out in real time today, Sunday, is Father’s Day – the day when families honor the central man in their lives, the man who helped conceive them and who nurtured them [it is hoped]. For those whose fathers have gone, like mine, it is a time to recall, remember, re-evaluate perhaps, understanding that central character through more experienced eyes. It is a day to celebrate and to treasure. It is a time to play well with those we love. Happy Father’s Day.