In my mind I see heavy ropes as thick as my leg, one end of each securely tied to My Ship, the other attached to an immense anchor, to a wharf – strong ropes for whatever the need – this is my father, to me.
As captain, it’s up to me to make good use of them. Should I need to slow the ship, should I need safe harbour or to anchor against a fast current, to get my bearings, find my depth, pull myself over a sand bar or tie myself to the wheel in a storm, dad’s ropes are there ready – strong, secure, unbreakable.
They are his ropes, too.
He uses them to pull a clear, functional focal point from wherever it lies obscured – in a dense work of fiction or philosophy; a schoolhouse built in 1867 but declared redundant; the adolescent mess of a student’s mind; the unfocused power of a young athlete. He pulls paintings out of tangled landscapes; sets out of plays; the will to fight out of people numbed by despair; sparks out of an old ford.
He uses his ropes to tie himself – to a duty, a purpose, to a cause, to a task, to a beloved friend. These are the strong cords of loyalty; the silver-cored, platinum wrapped, finely crafted cords of family.
He uses them as intention – to connect the earth to the sky, with trees. Maple, spruce, pine, cedar, ash, chestnut, olive, ginko, locust, oak. Hundreds and hundreds of trees, planted my my father.
His ropes draw nourishment from the deep deep well of intuition and the will to create. Most graciously of all, they pull from the rare, fine place where he sees and accepts what is, fully, quietly and without judgement.
Oh, but he binds himself, sometimes, in worry. He flagellates himself, sometimes, in atonement for the effects of his rage, his insensitivities. I think we all do this. Perhaps a little less would be better?
Hey – there’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.
Happy 80th, Dad. Good number. Let’s go skiing.