Oil on canvas, 12x12, commission
It's Father's Day today, and that's led me to all sorts of thoughts about the shape of family and the shape of parenting.
The family that we have - a grown daughter, four grandchildren ranging in age from 25 to 8, and here in our home, seven dogs and three cats - this is not the family that, when I was growing up, I imagined I'd have.
I thought I'd have a "regular" family. A husband who earned the money. A big house in the suburbs. Two kids, maybe three, and a dog. When the kids were young, I'd be in my 20s or 30s. By the time they went to college, I'd be the age I am now.
I thought my house would always be clean. I'd be svelte, and lineless, and absurdly fit. I would have garden-club friends, and give elegant dinner parties and have plenty of savings in the bank for old age.
Of course, I thought old age would never come. Heck, I thought middle age would never come.
Well, middle age has been here for a while. The family is an interesting amalgam of stepchildren, step-grandchildren, and the vanished fathers of grandchildren. Our own house is never clean, we scrape to pay the bills, Peter does the cooking and the cleaning and the housework, and I am far from svelte or lineless.
But what we have is so much richer than anything I'd imagined. There is love and honesty and courage and inspiration in this house, and in this family. There is art and creativity and kindness. There is honor and faith and a belief in the best of people, and, having seen some of the darkest stretches of life, there is a belief in the best of possibilities.
To read my Father's Day story, and see a photo of Dad and me when we were both about 53 years younger, click here.
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