He doesn’t move as quickly as he used to, his knee causing him to slow down and lean on his cane. He doesn’t spend as much time as he used to in his 12 acre yard, tending his plants, proudly harvesting the citrus from trees we spent years fertilizing and protecting from freezes with smudge pots. These days he mainly sits in his chair, often fixed to the unlimited fight or flight pumped into the home courtesy of Fox and the local cable company.
He is lonely. He misses his life partner of 52 years, my saintly mother, gone now these eight years. She lies just outside of town in the carefully manicured Veteran’s Cemetery, rows of granite stones amidst copses of live oaks and palmettoes. He will join her there one day. The three of us children live within an hour of our father. But our busy lives mean we don’t visit as often as he’d like. He telephones his 93 year old sister up in Tallahassee, his only remaining sibling, every day.
For now, at 88 years of age, his mind remains as sharp as ever, a steel trap retaining knowledge of the world he has assiduously collected over the years, much of it from his time as a sailor in the Pacific in WWII and his many visits as a retiree that have taken him to five of the seven continents. He is a veritable walking history book of this region of Florida where he was born, grew up and returned to make his living, much in demand by local history buffs and teachers at the local high school to which he devoted the vast majority of his life.
He was rough on me, the oldest child of three, as I grew up in that little town where I was routinely called Sammy, the name my father bore in his childhood there. But I always knew he loved me and only wanted the best for me. And when he heard my life was in danger that second year of teaching in that small town a half hour away, he simply drove his pickup truck over to my rented house and informed me I was moving home that day. My guess is that he probably saved my life. He has often said he does not understand why I have pursued the various paths in life I have, but he has always supported me.
He has been a very fine father. And I am very grateful for my nearly 62 years as his oldest child.
My Dad will be coming to our home this day for an afternoon lunch. My sister is picking him up to bring him the hour’s drive to Orlando. My brother is picking up the food to bring over. Daddy will be surrounded by his three children, their life partners and two of his grandchildren. We will eat together, tell stories, laugh a lot and silently acknowledge the painful gaping hole that our Mother once filled. It will be his kind of day. And on this Father’s Day, that’s what he deserves.
The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, J.D., M.Div., Ph.D.
Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (Dio. of El Camino Real, CA)
Professed, Third Order Society of St. Francis (TSSF)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando
If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.
Most things of value do not lend themselves to production in sound bytes. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++