Father. Given my gender, I am a mother, but lately I have been thinking a lot about the role of fathers in my life. Now that I am almost 46 years old, I have had the opportunity to see my own father with different eyes and to observe many of my male friends become fathers. Truth is, the relationship between a father and child is full of mystery for me, and I find beauty and magic in healthy father-child relationships.
My father, as in a sad novel of magical realism, is disappearing before our eyes. Little by little, his mind wanders elsewhere, he is becoming lost to us, and this doesn’t only pain me but also all of those who love him and who have loved him. Our consolation is that he seems happy. I only hope that he is. When I was little, after nightmares, he would calm me. Now, after visiting him, I often feel as though I am in a nightmare from which he can no longer save me. No one should lose anybody like this.
In 1989, I met two Italians in Florence, Italy while I studied at the University of Florence. They took good care of me. I was much younger than they were, and very naïve, and these two men continue to be some of my most adored friends. Both have daughters the same age as my son, and to see them transformed into fathers is a great gift. One, in the photo above, explained to me once that his daughter is “the jewel of his heart.” I imagine that the other would say the same of his daughter.
Two years ago, my friend’s “jewel” lived with my family for four months in order to attend school and to learn English. She was very brave (she was only ten years old when she stayed with us) and she learned a lot. She is an exceptional girl. During those four months, by day she was happy, but by night she wept because she missed her father: the man who cared for her, raised her and protected her above all.
I saw, close-up, another example of the power of love between a father and a child.
My husband is a phenomenal father. He plays with and teaches our children. Naturally, he also chides them and punishes them, because this is part of being a parent, too. My Italian friends are also exceptional fathers. My brother, step-brothers, and fictive-kin Spanish brothers are also stupendous fathers, and my friends in other countries are, too. And I hope that they are reading this, as they know who they are. I feel fortunate to know so many fathers whom I respect a great deal and from whom I have learned how to be a better mother and person.
In the photo, my friend is trapped in the light. His figure is illuminated. It may be cliché, but, since having taken the photo, I see him like this, he and the other fathers I admire. The light that surrounds him is the affection and love not only between him and his child but also between him and all those who care for or love him. I dedicate this entry to him and to the other fathers I admire. May they know that through the love they give their children, they increase the affection that others feel toward them. May this affection sustain them always, especially when they feel alone.