I have two notable fathers in my life, one who helped create me and one I helped create. I have the great good fortune of loving them both.
Last year, I found myself musing about my children’s father, my partner in an effort to bring two more fine young men into the world. This year — no disrespect to you, D. — my thoughts are with my Dad, who is tending to his younger brother, half a planet away.
Almost every day I send a short note and photograph of the “Flat Stanley” version of my uncle that accompanies me everywhere, my little missives pushing back against the daunting tedium of his diagnosis and surroundings. Smiling from a now well-creased blue sheet of paper, “Flat J.” has gone with me to the beach, the theater, the studio, on long walks and short errands. I’ve grown quite attached to his company. We talk. I laugh at his jokes. His humor is wry, his wit quick. Friends and total strangers alike have posed with him, every one of them grinning into the camera, thinking, perhaps, of someone else, far away, whom they love and may eventually mourn.
Somewhere in the weeks since this all began, I came to realize the pictures and messages are more than just notes to cheer J. They are also love notes to my father, expressions of a profound appreciation for his devotion, not just to his brother, but to me, and my brother, and all the other younger ones he’s ever taken under his warm and quirky wing.
I imagine his father would approve.
So for all the people who are fathers, or have had fathers, or may someday be fathers: Pops, this one is for you — Happy Fathers’ Day.