Friday, June 17, 2016

Father's Day Nudges Us to Remember

I once stood before a glass display case in an Art Museum in Memphis. Some artist called her work: “Belongings.” And scattered behind the glass case were her father’s tiny mementoes. After his death this daughter opened his old leather billfold. She took all the items nestled in the pockets of that billfold. In this artistic rendering she had arranged all those bits and pieces he had left behind. Standing there I found myself strangely moved. There was a stub of a ticket from a baseball game. A dog-eared Social Security card. A yellowing sepia picture of a young woman probably his wife in the early days of their courtship. There was another picture of a little snaggled-tooth little girl smiling. Could this have been the artist? There was his driver’s license though the date had expired years before. She had spread out a few coins: two pennies, a nickel, a quarter and a two-dollar bill. There was a mill pass that unlocked the door to a job he must have had for years and years. One lone key was in that display—perhaps to his house. 

Why did this artist display her father’s last mementoes for all to see? I think maybe she was trying to discover something about the man she called Father or Papa or Daddy. Perhaps she wanted those who saw this display to remember that this man, her father had lived and worked and dreamed. Perhaps this was her way of paying tribute to her father and dealing with her loss.

So on this Father’s Day it isn’t really about cologne or shirts or golf balls. This day is not just a time for families to gather. This day is a rare moment of spreading out our good and bad memories of the man we called Father. Perhaps it is a day of touching an old grief—or letting go of something hard at the center of our hearts. Maybe it is a day for honoring the man, for better or worse, who gave us life.

At the ball games on TV nobody ever holds up a “Hi Dad” sign. Some fan always waves to the TV camera: “Hi Mom!” But scattered across our lives are tiny bits and pieces, dreams and memories of the man we call father. This is how day. Remember.

John Wesley Lovett

--Roger Lovette /

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