14 June, 2011

A Father's Day reflection

Did you sense that?
Sense what?
It’s Mrs. Gillespie’s perfume…
On the evening of August 22nd 2006, my Uncle Desi lost his five-year battle with cancer. He’d been given the last rights a half dozen times over those five years.
Yet this paratrooper from the Korean War was not about to go down without a fight…
Growing up, Fathers’ day was Mothers’ day part two for my Brother and I. Our own father walked out on us when we where very young and it was our Uncle Desmond who became our mentor.
The last time I saw my own father, I was 7. There was an increasing number of threatening telephone calls to the house that week, usually a sign that something was about to happen…
It was a beautiful summer day and my Aunt Gina and Uncle Desi came over to visit and watch us because our Mother had to work. We were not allowed to play outside alone, though we could smell the cookies...
We lived around the corner from a small bakery and every time they made fresh cookies we would head over on our bikes and the owners would let us each have one for free. We begged our Uncle to let us go, and so after much deliberation it was decided that we could ride our bikes over only if we went slowly so our Uncle Desi could walk along side of us. It was a good thing he came with us that day...
On our way back, smiling, still feeling the warm cookie in our bellies, our father pulled up along side of us in his car. Before anything was said, my Uncle Desi, who was never a confrontational man, but something in his swagger told you that he could keep you safe. He put his bare hand on the car door, his fingers digging into the upholstery, his arm so strong you could feel the muscles tighten, as he said, “Son, take your brother and ride back to the house as fast as you can and get inside”.
My Uncle is the only one who has ever called me son, a sentiment from him that could always put my mind at ease. I peddled as quickly as possible making sure my brother was keeping up and we dropped our bikes on the sidewalk as we ran inside straight for the window. We watched as my Uncle walked as if in a funeral procession, shoulders square, one leg after the other, never wavering in his grip, never once blinking as he carried that car to the corner, only letting go the moment he sensed the car was about to speed off never to be seen again.
At 1:07am, five years ago on August 22nd, as my Aunt and Mother and I sat vigil, my Mother;
smelled the perfume of my Uncle’s own Mother and then just like that my Uncle was gone…
Then just 27 days later, Isabella was born and in that very short span of time I grieved for the only real man I’ve ever known and became the one thing I knew very little about, a Father.
My Uncle’s favorite saying was “Life is made of froth and bubble, two things, stand alone…kindness in another’s trouble and courage in your own”
On this Fathers’ Day I want to thank all of the men who have fathered, mentored and cared for the children who needed the love of a Father.
And to my own Mother, Happy Mothers' Day Part Two:)
Warm Regards,
Michael J. Lee

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