I don’t care what you think of my father. I don’t care what you think of his ancestors or progeny.
I am no apologist. If you doubt this and care to challenge your perspective, read the rest of my writings.
I simply owe it to those I failed most to offer a glimpse of the man many of them chose to love and learned to fear.
In his prime, Dad dripped charisma. At his best he engaged and charmed and enthralled. He could be so playful and could appear courageous. I don’t think even he knew if he truly cared or was really good at looking like he cared, or both. Whatever it was – and I suspect it ran the range – in the time when his eyes were clear and unshielded and his smile bright and warm, he seemed to care deeply.
He had a strong sense of justice, with his scope deftly trained on others at all times. He could be beautifully eloquent in a down-home country sort of way, or in a manner befitting an aristocratic dinner party … whatever got it done.
And he was a sick man who wanted everyone to adore him and so would mold himself constantly to that end.
When I gnash my teeth slightly as my heart swells while I play with a child or animal, I’m reminded of Dad. Right up to the last time I saw him, he could lovingly and playfully engage babies and animals … probably because he didn’t need their adulation and so could enjoy them more genuinely … and of course others were watching, so…
When my eyes twinkle just enough to let my daughters know that I’m pulling their leg, he’s in there.
When I rise up with eyes flashing, ready to verbally lash someone I deem ignorant and intolerant – how ironic – I know where that came from.
When my heart aches for the world, I know his did too… occasionally.