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Sunday, June 21, 2009

On Father's Day

David Gates, the chief songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from the 70's soft-rock group Bread wrote the song "Everything I Own" about his father. The song itself has been covered by many others, including Boy George, and, as I understand it, a Jamaican musician. I think the song's lyrics are as fitting a tribute as can possibly exist on a Father's Day.

You sheltered me from harm
Kept me warm, kept me warm
You gave my life to me
Set me free, set me free
The finest years I ever knew
Were all the years I had with you

I would give anything I own
Give up my life, my heart, my home
I would give ev'rything I own
Just to have you back again

You taught me how to love
What it's of, what it's of
You never said too much
But still you showed the way
And I knew from watching you
Nobody else could ever know
The part of me that can't let go

(Repeat chorus)

Is there someone you know
You're loving them so
But taking them all for granted?
You may lose them one day
Someone takes them away
And they don't hear
The words you long to say

(Repeat chorus)

Just to touch you once again

I've always found this song very touching, not because it reminded me of my father, but because it reminds me of the father I try to be to my daughters. I probably fail more than I succeed, but in life I've always believed that it's the effort that counts more than sometimes the result. Even more importantly, I always keep on trying.

As for my own father, growing up he was never there, physically or otherwise. At the time that always made me very angry. Now I've come to realize that he was trapped in a viscous cycle of mental health ills, promoted by a series of bad decisions, including too much medication, too much alcohol, too much denial and a sea of guilt. If for no other reasons than those I don't drink, only take medication when absolutely necessary, and I do my best to stay mentally fit. I also now make the choice to believe that in his own mind he always wanted to do the right thing, even if he was never really able to actually do so.

Happy Father's Day in Heaven Dad.

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