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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Fatherly Message

I think back through my life and find myself at times searching for some deeper understanding of my father. A man born into poverty in Richton, MS in a church parsonage. The boy who had to endure the trials of military academy and a orphanage as well as 13 grade schools, while at the same time realizing the lost of his own father --- by choice, he simply left his own family. What is a son without a father, without a proper role model for being a man? Why did the grandfather I never knew have to leave and give up on his own family, his future generations, give up on my own father?

While there are many ways to convict my father for the transgressions of fear, violence and abuse that permeated from his hands, I step back to wonder had his life been different, would his actions have changed likewise? Would he have been a more understanding, patient and emotional person? I juat cannot get past the understanding of his actions, nor how as a father myself to how one would injure those responsilbe only to protect and encourage. My father in spite of his negativity, sacrificed himself completely for the benefit of his children, sometimes at own expense in terms of fear and sanity, but at the end of the day --- he chose to provide his children a better life. A better life than a poor Mississippi country town, a better life than poor white trash, a better life than he ever had. The things I will always remember about my father are his work ethic, his intelligence, and mostly his convictions: "promise to always keep your word", because at the end of the day, that is sometimes all you have left to give. Sandwiched within that is the ever-present fear, violence, torture and humiliation that we all endured so regularly. I just don't know how to balance the positive with the overwhelming oppresion.

I will also remember the influence that poetry had upon this man, and the contrast between his actions as a father at times and the purity and vision captured in his poetic recitals. I will always remember the words of "If" by Kipling, the verses than rang forth from poems such as "Columbus" by J. Miller.....recalling as a child the conviction and emotion of the first lines ringing through my head, only trying to imagine the vision of the land he spoke of.... "Behind him lay the gray azores, behind him lay the gates of Hercules, Before him not the ghost of shores, before him only shoreless seas......" ---- and of course the favorites such as "Invictus" by William Henley which spoke powerfully, "I am the master of my fate...I am the captain of my soul...."

I can only hope that as a man today I can say that I have forgiven my father, but I just cannot completely understand it all. I do respect him for the good he brought, the lessons that were so painfully learned as a child, but mean so much to me as a man. My father failed, failed by inflicting us all with a tremendous amount of unnecessary harm, violence and fear. I have failed myself and grew more critical of myself due to the extreme criticism I was place under during my life. But, alas...thick skin is a good thing and it has helped me grow and be strong. I have certainly fallen short of my abilities, perhaps even my own dreams, but I have tried, tried so hard to make myself proud, to make myself feel that I have achieved something worthy...worthy of my own acceptance of myself...worthy that my children will know me to be a good father in spite of my guilt and failures of making them grow up in a broken, seperated home.

Sometimes karma has a way of making it around full-circle and you do reap what you sow.

Life has a way of reminding you all of the time how you have hurt others, how your actions have affected those who chose to be part of your life...perhaps I never truly understood how to love anyone completely, perhaps I have never truly accepted my own shortcomings, and I don't want to hurt or let anyone else down again. I will always carry the scars of the past, both received and inflicted and that is what keeps me human, keeps my reaching for something better as a man and as a father myself. I carry the weight of my guilt for those who I have hurt and that is what keeps me more private, more reserved than most. I just hope that I can keep growing and maturing into someone better than I am today. To see the need in the world, and not just the selfishness of my own walk, to see others completely and not be lost in them, but to never lose myself...again.

To be just Andy....

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