Sunday, June 16, 2013

On Father's Day: A Guest Blog by Paul Porter


Dad slipped away in the middle of the night after an extended illness. I didn't get to say goodbye. 

He slipped away because Mom forgot to remove the rotor from the distributor cap.

We were pulling into our driveway, returning home from Wednesday night Prayer Meeting. Mom uttered an anguished "NOOOOO!!" when she saw him backing the car out of the drive. She tried vainly to block his way with the truck she was driving, but he simply cut across the lawn, bounced through the ditch, and flew down the road, kicking up a plume of dust.
The next time we saw that car, it was a tangled wreck sitting in a junk yard. The next time we saw our Daddy, he was lying, still and waxen, in a big gray casket. Uncle James explained, as gently as he could, that our Daddy's car had 'failed to negotiate a curve'. We didn't know what BAC stood for, we just saw how amazed everyone behaved when they heard the number.
Children look to their Dad for answers. My questions stuck in my chest. Suddenly, I had no one to ask. No one to tell me how to do things. How to tie a tie. How to read the Bible. How to say a prayer. How to lead the family devotions. How to love a woman. How to raise a child. How to live with integrity. How to say goodbye to someone who runs away in the middle of the night. How to negotiate a curve.
I closed my chest, hid my heart, and set out to act like I knew what I was doing. That approach worked until I became a father myself. As my child grew, I found it harder and harder to keep my heart hidden, my questions locked away in my chest. I realized one day that I was being asked questions I couldn't answer. Questions I'd wanted to ask, but never got to. Because my source of knowledge had slipped away in the middle of the night. And failed to negotiate a curve.
Years went by before I realized...I knew the answers! I Knew the Answers!! I've had the answers all along! I've negotiated that curve!. I've been around that bend so many times I could do it in my sleep! And so, I let my Daddy off the hook. I stopped resenting that he didn't stick around to watch me grow up. Realized I had mastered a skill that frightened my Daddy to death.
In a hypno-therapy session, I hugged him, summoning all the love and compassion I imagined I could muster. I pressed my cheek against his fresh-shaven face and the palm of my hand against his opposite cheek. I held his face tighter to mine and deeply inhaled his Aqua-Velva aftershave.

As I felt my father's heart thumping against my chest, tears ran down my cheek. But those tears weren't mine; they were his. My questions were no longer unanswered.
"Good bye, Dad!" I whispered.
"Hello, son!" he sobbed.



Ariel's Note: Paul Porter is "a peripateticpilgrim...eclectic, didactic, but not pedantic...a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction. He began his journey on a dairy farm in Kansas, and now rests his head in Pele's fiery bosom on the Big Island of Hawaii. He's always looking forward to tomorrow and the new things tomorrow will bring."
Have a meaningful and happy father's day!

- Ariel Murphy


  1. Sad and beautiful, Paul. You have negotiated the curves very well, and negotiated the sometimes bumpy road of the father/son relationship well, too.