One of the first people I met when I moved to Germany was Dermot. Fantastic person and even better artist. He’s Irish of course. Have you ever met a Dermot who wasn’t?
He is also a woodworker who specialises in lamps. The one above is rather beautiful, isn’t it?
After the last few serious blogposts, I wanted to share a bit of beauty. Life is fleeting. There’s no reason to ignore the preciousness of the littlest things.
If you love someone, don’t hesitate to say it. If you feel alone, reach out. Someone is there for you.
The story of my Dad and me has gotten me thinking about the fragility of our bonds and how essential it is to appreciate what one has while it’s still around.
See, he wasn’t my natural father. Although he was my Dad, I didn’t call him that until I went off to college. Until then he was my mom’s boyfriend and then later her third husband.
The first husband was Ken, Sr, who was my natural father. He died in an auto accident when she was pregnant with me, and unfortunately she remarried quickly thereafter. She was lonely. Husband number two took advantage of her vulnerability, and then when the responsibility of raising me and the son of his who’d arrived in the meantime got to be too much, he Made a New Plan, Stan and Dropped off the Key, Lee.
It’s ok. He was a schmuck. Good riddance and all that.
Then, it was the three of us for a number of years. At some point, my Mom had one of her infamous annual Christmas parties and one of her guests, the son of one of her older friends, fell asleep with her under the Yuletide tree.
Not a bad love story, is it? He never left. Felt so at home, the man moved in almost immediately.
There was only one little problem, and his name was Ken. I wasn’t the most receptive to a new dude in the house. My track record with men was that they stuck around for a bit and then fucked off when the going got rough. It was obvious to me that this was going to happen again. It was only a matter of time.
Well, I might be a decent judge of character in other circumstances, but about this guy I was wrong. He not only stuck around, but he socked away enough Sweet Moolah from Uncle Rico that my Mom really needn’t worry about money from here on out. Not too shabby, eh? I think so.
Bill Auvenshine died six years ago, but sometimes it feels like it was yesterday. He was the gentlest, sweetest man I’ve ever had the honour of having known. When I went to Ohio for school, I saw some of the father figures my college friends had endured, and I realised how lucky I’d had it.
At that point, I stopped the charade that I’d been carrying out all those years. Until then, I’d refer to my parents as ‘My Mom and her husband Bill‘. However, from then on I easily switched over to ‘My Mom and Dad‘.
He told me something when I turned eighteen that I’ll never forget. It showed two undeniable things: he had a dark sense of humour and was a ponderer.
A thinker, if you will.
‘Ken,’ he said, ‘You should enjoy being eighteen, because this is the smartest you’ll ever be. For the rest of your life, you’ll slowly realise how little you really know.‘
I know you can’t force someone to do something they really don’t want to do. You can plead and beg, but if they’re dead set on not doing what they don’t want to do, you’re generally out of luck.
My Mom wanted me to have a father. It was important to her, and she thought this guy would make a good one. As a child, I thought she forced the issue. I felt like accepting the new guy would be some sort of disloyalty to Ken, Sr.
And most importantly, I was sure this new character was there for a while but would eventually tire of us and be on his way.
Once when we were in the car and talking about something unrelated, I made a little snide comment that he’d only stuck around for my Mom’s love but that we (her two sons) were clearly a hassle and a burden, even.
He turned to me with a very serious look on his face, and said, ‘No, Ken. I loved your Mom very much, but I stuck around for you. There had been enough abandonment in your young lives. You needed a Dad and I wanted to be it.‘
Remember what I said at the beginning of all this? About the fragility of bonds between us humans? Well, in that moment he won me over. Not once after that did I ever question his motives. He was my Dad, and that was that.
Clearly, being a Dad has little to do with biology or to whom you are married. I wish there were a tradition that recognized when someone has officially met the standard; a Dad Mitzvah, I guess. It would probably just become a required/faked event, but I like the idea of it anyway. Enjoyed the story and hope he had the opportunity to have his Dad Mitzvah before he passed.
I had work today. I had a long shift, and it ran really really late. Middle-of-the-night late. Lunch was dinner. That kind of shift. And you totally made me break down weeping in the breakroom with this, so when I got back from lunch (sigh, fine, dinner) I’m sure people probably thought I’d had catastrophic news.
I have a thing for dad stories. It’s an Amy-thing, I don’t know. I’m lucky to have a good one. A really good one. I know a lot of people aren’t. That makes me just ache for them, because a dad is just really something special.
I’m glad you had a dad, no matter where he came from. He sounds wonderful. And thank you for this. You were totally right the other day. I would comment on you transcribing the phone book. But this was really something special, even for you.
I’m glad you had the chance to talk to your dad, and hear his side of the story. Too often we get caught up in our own personal views; views that, by their very nature, tend to get rather skewed.
This was very inspiring to me. Thank you.
I need to know more woodworkers who specialize in lamps. This aspect of my life is severely lacking.