September 20, 2009

The End of Humor


Several years ago, writing had become a multi-generational affair. My father cites my writing as his inspiration to pick up a pen and record his own thoughts and experiences. Over time, he made a binder for all of his children, filled with memories from days gone by and considerations of the world now before him. But it's been awhile since he's added to that binder...

He didn't think we were interested.

I doubt I'll ever convince him of how wrong he is. But two days ago, after a hiatus, he finally picked up the proverbial pen and made a new entry called 'Humor.' In it, he reflects on a solitary childhood and how he overcame loneliness at school with humor. It became, he tells us, a shield as hard and protective as a turtle's shell behind which he could hide the true person inside. Daddy explains how he now lives Bruce Springsteen's 'Glory Days,' when one is left with boring stories of days gone by.

My dad can tell a story like no one else. He infuses so much life into a simple recount of the day or a remembrance of long-buried relatives. They're anything but boring. And while he acknowledges that he's been putting that humor away, because the world is too busy, because his family is too busy, because his health is weakening along with his spirit.

He is now the unsmiling face we see on the photos of Native Americans. His ancestors.

He says:
"So I have put the humor aside and will now just wait for the spirit to leave me."

No time soon, I pray. Because there is such value in this man of wisdom and love. Because no one is a better example of everything little girls want to find in their future soul mate. No one can live up to my daddy. And no one has stood by me, lifted me up and made me whole like my parents. I need his stories and the humor that comes not as a shield but as a genuine part of his spirit to remind me of who I am, where I come from. If he will listen, I will tell him not to put his thoughts away but preserve them as he has in the past. If he thinks no one cares, no one's interested and no one has time, he need only look at his daughter.

I am standing here, ears alert, waiting to hear his voice.

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