I Have My Father’s Y’s

Every time I write the letter 'y,' I'm reminded of my father. That letter, in particular, I write the same as him. As I've matured and grown older, I've often weighed and considered the characteristics I hope to keep that I've subconsciously been passed down from him and also those that I've needed to define on my own. To me at least, it's unclear why I write this letter the same. Perhaps, when I was a child I noticed it looked distinctly different from how others wrote it (similarly, I often write my capital 'Js' the same way he does) or maybe it's just that I saw it often enough on notes scribbled in-between the pages of his Bible or the pencil marks on 2x4's used to build many of the houses we lived in. It's entirely possible I only wanted to be like him; who's to say why I've been gifted this trait and not others.

We're similar, him and I, and it wasn't too noticeable until I struck out after high school and had been on my own for a few years, but we are. There have been seasons of embracing this reality and others of running from it. However, I'm distinctly his. We each have hair that curls up along the tops of our necks when it gets too long, and our body shapes and heights are nearly identical. The faith in Christ I hold so dear is because of him. Although my faith and journey have looked entirely different than his, it's without a doubt a credit to him for bringing me up under a roof and fatherly protection that sought after God. When I was a teenager, I didn't care to be like him. I often saw his outlook on my life to be in direct opposition to my own and my desires for it. To be fair, we were in direct opposition at times. Our love looked more like a tennis match that never resolves due to the aggravated batting of hurt and frustration toward the other until our bodies give way to defeat from exhaustion, not resolution. There were a handful of instances I embarrassed him, brought discomfort, and disappointed him. He felt how he felt though and faulting him for those emotions is something I can't do. The thought that he perhaps stopped loving me never crept into my mind or heart, but in hindsight, I'm able to see that I wasn't mature enough to consider him having emotions like you, or I or anyone else has emotions. It's strange how easy it is to think parents are like robots and function only to provide and discipline, but not feel. My interests weren't his, or at least not how he pictured them developing, and I get that. Thinking about having children myself one day, I, of course, want them to care about what I care about. I desire that connection. The relationship existing between a parent and child is never secure, and only speaking from the viewpoint of a son, I'm confident my understanding will be destroyed and rebuilt on this topic over and over once I walk into fatherhood.
Throughout each up and down that every parent and child go through, and now that the dust has settled, I see so much of him in me. Despite my previous rejections of this possibility, I am filled with thanks and gratitude for it now. It's easy not to pay attention to or understand how challenging it is to be a single parent in an expensive town or make career decisions that build equity in the bank of relationship and not self-indulgence & personal security. No parent is perfect, and for many, parents aren't a part of the equation at all, which is devastating. The simple choice is never to consider what others have done for us and pretend that we've made it on our own; or, that each problem or deficiency is a result of wounds brought on by others, often by those who raised us. There may undoubtedly be truth running through those veins, but in this moment, on this misty mid-afternoon day, I'm thankful for both the strikes and the gifts bestowed upon me by him. I am his, and he is mine; tied together by DNA but not without love and friendship.

December 2017

Writer, Photographer, Strategist

Portland, OR
By way of London, California, & Colorado