Altar for my father


September 27th, 2011, my father passed away. He was the source of a great deal of who I am, and the parts of me I’m proud of. He was honest to a fault, most found him rude because of it, but that honesty was…freeing. He was never afraid of poking holes in peoples illusions. He took joy in it, actually. I think I want to be kinder, but I love the idea that honesty is liberating, I try and act on that often. It puts me in some socially scary places, but I’m always grateful I’ve done it.

He loved art. My mother is a skilled artisan who is extremely good with her hands and can make anything. Dad was more in to the intellectual. He had sketchbooks filled with ideas, quotes, bits of memories, airplane aerodynamics, and just pure statements he had to say. I knew this, I grew up with his philosophy on art. I think he’s the person who taught me about deeper meaning. But looking through his sketchbooks now that he’s gone, that was altering. In one, I found a letter he wrote to me while he was touring India. I was around 12. I don’t think I’d cried that hard since around the time he died.

He made various pieces of art over the years. He was for awhile very obsessed with the idea of creating a (small) false fossil of an angel skeleton. He made a bronze piece of a monkey reaching for the moon in a pool of water. (Which was lost in the mail, and it breaks my heart.) I intend to frame quite a few of his sketchbook pages.

At his “funeral,” which was just a few of us gathered around my mom’s pool, feet in the water, we just talked about him. I was deep in my grief, and I didn’t say much beyond that he was “perfect.” But I think most people misunderstood me that night. I was under no illusions that my father was a perfect person. I lived through his faults more than most. But what I meant in that moment, that I still mean, was that he was perfect for me. For all the fights, and his alcoholism, and the darker parts of his psyche, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about him. Except to take away his pain, which in the end only death could do.


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