Today is Fathers’ Day. Mine died over 30 years ago…he didn’t hang around long enough for me to focus on his short-comings the way I’ve done with my mother. I am the oldest of five and the only female. Only two of us have children, and I see that they are both good fathers…and the two of us who haven’t been divorced, if that means anything.
My parents were 21 and 22 when I was born, Dad still in school…how would they know how to raise children? They came from the usual dysfunctional families and were both products of the assumptions of their times. I didn’t get a middle name, because I was supposed to use my father’s name, Hastings, as middle, when I took my husband’s name as last. As you may know, I took back my father’s last name after I divorced my abusive husband in 1982.
Dad did pay for my education at a very good college, both parents pushed me to learn a trade, so I would not be financially dependent on a husband. I remember Dad telling me to join organizations and take the jobs nobody else wanted, so I could be in the inner circle. He paid for the Famous Artist course for me, though he told my husband that the next-oldest brother was more creative and I was more of a craftsman.
For a psychiatrist, he wasn’t very good at speaking up about the abuse my future husband was already handing out to me and my mother, to help my gay brother with the bullying he got at school, but we were both able to break free (eventually).
Backyard patterns, a blooming ground cover and donkey-tailed euphorbia
I had the example of a father who did his regular job during the day and followed his art passion in the evenings and weekends and on vacations, and I was proud of his photographs in books and magazines and hearing railroad workers call him Doc and treat him as famous, even if in a small sphere. I think he had patients who appreciated him, too, though sometimes he seemed too retiring to stand up for himself in professional situations.
A vacation to Port Townsend to visit Mike and Katie in their new home
I followed in his footsteps in having patients and students who say I’ve done them good. I always emulated him in doing two jobs at once, to the point where now that I’ve been retired from my health-care job since the end of 2013, I still have a nagging feeling that I Must be “productive” every second to fit it all in.
Katie and I did a lot of walking, she with her bad knee and me with my bad foot. Her new neighborhood and a woman with many cement globes in her yard. Katie’s favorite North Beach, where just breathing the air makes her feel good, and we each have our favorite collectibles, rocks and beach glass.
Now that I’m 71, I’m trying to teach myself that it’s OK and even good, to slow down some and enjoy the process. I’ve already lived a decade longer than he did, and I love all my creative achievements and also the volunteering I do for the Fine Arts Center, the library, and the Planning Commission. This is the consolidation and giving back phase of my life, and I want to enjoy it thoroughly. We never know what may happen next…appreciate every moment!
Potential art material is Everywhere!