Father’s Day Symmetry
It’s funny how hard it is for me to allow things to be asymmetrical, out of balance. Things that I can control, that is, like the arrangement of a plate. Things I cannot control, like the fact that my father left me when I was five, and that my son’s father left him before he was born, now that too has a certain symmetry, but not the kind I enjoy.
Somehow, in preparing this Father’s Day feast, symmetry took hold of me and wouldn’t let go.
In my perfect world, all paths lead to and away from the source, and of course the source is what we’re remembering on Father’s Day. Speaking as a person who doesn’t even know the names of half of her grandparents, let me say that I hope that the path that led them here to America was clear to them, even though it’s invisible, incomprehensible, to me. Our fathers, even when we don’t know who they are, where they came from or why, or where they went, they’re still a part of our path.
In our family we have stepfathers, and step mothers too for that matter. Stepfathers stepping in after fathers stepped out. Stepmothers rounding up the ragtag and the restless, keeping the family wheel oiled and turning. I wish I could thank my stepfather today, just as I wish I could give my own father a good shaking. My stepfather, my stepson, my son’s stepfather, around here it’s all about the steps, the steps we take toward wholeness. Toward family.
We all know that not every part of family life is beautiful, sometimes it’s gloppy and gooey and grainy and sub-gorgeous. But the bright spots are there to be grabbed and held onto for dear life, when a family feels like quicksand, when having a father or being a father just isn’t enough to make the world run as it should. I’d be the last one to deny that fathers do have their special magic, that’s why we all need them, but let’s face it, a lot of it’s just biology, primordial, goopy.
It’s what one makes of it, the heart and soul of fatherhood, that counts for everything. What goes around and comes around and keeps the world turning is one good guy taking care of another, fathering, stepfathering, and bravely stepping up to the job of raising the young, a task that calls for a lot of raising of the spirits, and a modicum of raising hell when necessary.
I wish I had a father of my own to salute today, but since I don’t, if you’re a father I’m tipping my hat to you. And if you’re a stepfather, this cake is for you, because it’s not easy being step, and because stepfathers deserve a special place in all of our hearts.