Father’s Day remains in memories

Posted by art@cushingcitizen.com art@cushingcitizen.com


Happy Father’s Day, Dad.
I’ve been thinking about you plenty of late.
I know you are pleased to have your lifelong mate up there and at your side.
Her death has made me think so much of you.
And what you would think about the man I have become.
A score beyond your death and still I find myself needing to please you.
Damn you.
I guess it’s just another Johnnyism burden I bear.

Also, it’s the third Sunday of June.
The final round of the U.S. Open.
And Father’s Day.
Begun in 1908 — Wikipedia.com — one year after the first observance of Mother’s Day. Organized by Grace Golden Clayton, a woman in Fairmont, W.Va., to celebrate the lives of 200-plus fathers killed in a nearby mining disaster.
Research tells us neither Clayton nor West Virginia officially registered the date and left the credit for Father’s Day to Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Wash., who, in 1910, created her own celebration.
President Nixon in 1972 signed a proclamation to Father’s Day. The legacy of Clayton was recovered and Fairmont is now promoted as “Home of the First Father’s Day Service.”
The official Father’s Day celebration is hosted by Central United Methodist Church in Fairfield.

None of that matters in the least, really.
Father’s Day, like most nondescript holidays, never found its way to needing much attention in our house on the western edge of Smallville. We gave Dad gifts, as we did Mom, but never celebrated much the day.
This weekend I want to give him the gift of a big hug, something he struggled to understand.
A dear friend of mine blogged this week about telling somebody, “I love you,” and understanding what it means.
My father struggled with that.

Arthur Perry begat one son. Johnny Perry begat one son. Jim Perry begat one son.
Chris Perry? We shall see.
The relationships between Perry men and their sons were evolving works. As society changed, so did they.
My grandfather was a powerful, wonderful man. So was his son.
In their generations, being powerful was deemed more important than being wonderful.
Win bread. Discipline.
Such were the ingrained ways of fatherhood before the 1960s, when seemingly everything changed.
Neither of those adjectives fits me. But I am confident in saying my son knows I love him.

I think my father had to wait until his father was in the grave to grasp that knowledge. My father was in his last years on Earth before I came to know he loved me.
I fault neither of them. I hope I have learned the lessons they taught me. Unspoken lessons, mostly.
Time and distance separates me from my children. Unlike their mother, the fact does not cause me angst.
He hugged me tightly from what I was sure would be his death bed — he lived seven years more — in a Dallas hospital. For what I believe was the first time, he spoke words I needed to hear.
“I love you so much, son.”

Tears are welling in my eyes as I write this.
Johnny Max Perry was a stern disciplinarian. A mover and a shaker in his corner of the state.
A conservationist. Earthy. Savvy. Confident.
He was a heavy hitter in many ways. Opinionated. People respected him.
Especially with me more than my sisters, he struggled to share affection. That was the father-son thing he learned from his father.
I have done my best to trim the fat off those lessons and share with my son.
I hope on this Father’s Day, my son loves me as I love my father.