"After six decades I've only recently understood the degree to which I'm my father's son."
- Jim Harrison, Off To The Side
I was headed out to shovel snow this morning. Grabbed my jacket and gloves, side-stepped the Beagle, and headed for the backdoor. Just before opening the door, I stuck my hand in one of the black gloves. Suddenly I was a little boy, putting the black gloves of my father on my hands, feeling the soft interior just like his used to feel. And I began to weep.
He is probably unaware of the times I pulled open the drawer that kept his things: t-shirts, cuff links, old watches. One of those items was a pair of gloves, probably refreshed by new pairs over the years, but they always seemed to be black. One pair in particular had a luxurious inner lining. I loved putting them on.
I miss my dad being close-by today. Not sure completely what that's all about, but I do. I'm feeling rather boyish this Tuesday, overwhelmed, as the psalmist would say, by "matters too great for me." Maybe I'm longing for that strength my dad always brought to our house. I can only remember fear on the days or nights when he was away. And that wasn't very often.
We sons are probably too harsh on our fathers; I know I was back in my early thirties. Sons probably have to go through some of that in order to get to the other side. And the other side is: After four decades I'm only recently beginning to understand the degree to which I am my father's son. My dad gave me gifts over the years that had nothing to do with verbal affirmation or hugs, although those were there as well. I'm just beginning to see that.
Maybe he was aware of the times I got into his things. Maybe he made sure that cuff links were there to be found and handled. And luxurious black gloves were there to be tried. Maybe.
My neighbor probably looked out the window this morning and said, "Honey, come'mere. John is shoveling snow and weeping. Should I go help him or something?" And she probably said, "No. He does that from time to time. He'll be o.k."
Would it surprise you to know I'm typing this post with my gloves on?
A forty year old man sticks a hand in a glove and is suddenly ten years old trying out his father's things. Amazing, isn't it, the simple items that become relics of the sacred when memory is involved? Ah, two or three gathered at the Shame, the things of this earth are holy. We are called to a life of genuflection.