I am forever a father. A son too, though the earthly connections to my parents ended seven years ago. Still, I choose to embed the themes of both father and son dynamics in my writing. I believe those roles and identities are rich with possibilities and pitfalls. They remind us of our past, our present, our place in the world.
Knowing my thematic propensities, recently Tom gave me a thoughtful, funny book that explores both sides of the equation. I’ll confess Michael Chabon’s stories Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces captivated me from the start–chronicling the escapades with his style-conscious, adolescent son Abe on their Paris Men’s Fashion Week odyssey–until the end when we learn of Pops, the doctor, and the author’s observations of his dad. That left me in tears.
It reminded me of my own father, Walter. How he coaxed me to tag along in 1962 when he got his hair cut. I was his number one son. At least that’s the way he introduced me to waiting patrons at the cosmetology college. Each time we went I feared Walter would force me to agree to a buzz cut from a boisterous barber, who snapped his cape like a matador and plucked black combs from tall jars of blue disinfectant.
I went along with Dad’s scheme anyway. I cowered behind his high-waisted, pleated pants before he stepped up into a swiveling chair for a cheap trim, a quick shave, and a dose of baseball banter between square-headed men wearing starched white shirts and boxy black-framed glasses.
In reality, I was Walter’s only son–four-year-old Bosco. It was an endearment he bestowed upon me, because I painstakingly pumped and stirred chocolate syrup of the same name into tall glasses of cold milk. In exchange, I sat in awe of my gregarious father as he gulped his coffee and savored his soggy Shredded Wheat. We loved each other, our playfulness, and kitchen table excesses.
Though Walter has been gone for more than twenty six years, I was thinking of him as I finished reading Michael Chabon’s book last weekend. Then, in the same two-day period, along came a fresh chapter of my own fatherhood. Both of my sons, Kirk from Chicago and Nick from Tempe, came to support me on Saturday in my literary life at the 7th Annual Local Author book sale in Scottsdale.
Behind the scenes, they’ve been there since 2014 when I waved goodbye to corporate life. Rooting me on to explore this late-in-life literary fantasy that has become a reality. But Saturday was different.
I stood before Tom. First he took my photo in front of my table. Behind my three books. Later when Kirk and Nick arrived, I stood between my two adult sons. I remembered how far we’ve come since February 1992 … when my own fatherhood felt it had shattered in pieces … when their mother and I told them we were divorcing. I was moving into a new home. They would spend half of their lives with each of us.
Fortunately, in 1992 I had the gumption to stay in their lives and love them. We built a life together. Then Tom came along in 1996 and, over time, they learned to love him too. Together we stood by Kirk and Nick as they grew.
And then, suddenly on Saturday, they were standing by me.
8 thoughts on “February, Fathers and Sons”
Father-son relationship must be as interesting and challenging as mother-daughter relationship and there is always something we can do on daily basis to strengthen the bond.
As I have watched my own relationships with my daughter, thought about my relationship with my own mother, and observed many mothers and daughters interact with one another over the years, I have come to conclusion that to create strong mother-daughter companionship I must develop common interests, listen to my daughter, make one-on-one and focus on the positives.
Thanks for sharing, Mark, delighted to see your boys supporting you and standing right next to you. Aiva
LikeLiked by 2 people
Yes … these relationships can test us. My dad and I had many difficult moments, but there were some sweet ones too. Sadly, I understand him more now than I did when he was alive. Though I know I’ve made some mistakes with my own sons, I’ve learned that honesty pays … and it’s important to give them guidance, but allow them enough room to make mistakes and find their way in their teen years and beyond.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Beautiful, your writing and the lovely men in the photo
Thank you, Kim!
I’m so glad there was a photo! Handsome, happy men! Great post and pic! 🙂
Thank you, Julie!
LikeLiked by 1 person
It was special to have both of your sons standing with you at your Book Fair table.
And I’m glad you enjoyed Pops. It seemed like a book that might feed into your own writing.
Yes, it was … Chabon’s book definitely spoke to me.