Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Reruns: Quite Possibly the Youngest Soul on the Planet

(original post date: March 31, 2010)

He so easily could have been a brat.

The fifth child in a Virginia family, he was born to three older sisters and an older brother. And because the family was so very Virginian, the girls ruled.

They ruled.

Oh my gracious, how they loved their “Bob-o-link!”

Were he alive today, my dad would grimace, scoldingly, at the nickname. (He also probably would curse.)

Were he alive today, that scolding grimace (and accompanying four-letter word) would probably be the only time you’d recognize something other than childlike wonder emanating from his face.

My dad died two years ago yesterday, and in writing this, I’m not seeking either to expel personal emotions or to solicit condolences.

I’m just writing to honor his life.

I also should say that I was relieved when he died.

I was relieved because, for the last few years of his life, he was very frail. His needs were taxing my mom. He needed to die.

As for the years that came ahead of those? I have one vision: Dad, with eyebrows raised and a jaw dropped just enough to create an “O” with his mouth.

My vision is Dad, amazed.

I’m not kidding.

Robbins (“Bob-o-link”) Gates was born – and probably died – amazed.

I remember one time when he and Mom visited me in New York. We were having dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant on Amsterdam Avenue , and my parents were expressing curiosity following some bad vibes that had just occurred with friends of theirs – friends with whom they’d shared a rented house on Cape Cod.

I had been in that house for one week of the two-week rental. I knew the players. And so, after listening to Mom and Dad’s description of events, I shared my perspective.

Eyebrows raised, mouth slightly opened, my dad looked across the table at me.

“How did you get to be so wise?” he asked.

I smiled, shrugged, and offered that I had simply observed.

I don’t know that I got my wisdom from Dad, but I know I got some serious DNA. My soul may be older than his, but I think a part of me still inherited that beautiful wonder.

It is because of Dad that I want to learn.

It is because of Dad that I am never sure.

It is because of Dad that I feel the world is my oyster.

I may have been born old, but because of Dad, I get to feel young.

So, Dad?

Wherever you are.

Keep being amazed.

It is your sense of wonder that keeps us all going, and we need that.

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POSTSCRIPT: Gratitude to my sister, Martha, for providing the first line.

8 comments:

C... said...

Wonderful memories so well written. :) Glad you can see on he brighter side of life and death.

Sioux said...

I love when people honor their family, their beloved friends, their pets by telling stories. It's a way of keeping them alive in your heart.

Kristy said...

The love you have for your father is so apparent. Thank you for sharing. So beautiful!

Andrea said...

Oh the fathers, where do they go when they go? My father taught me to question all the history lessons they gave us in school. "It wasn't quite like that..." he'd say, and light would come flooding in, showing me all the sad truths about the way people in power actually behave; it all made me cringe. Still, I felt grateful. He taught me to distrust authority (except for his, of course), and he loved animals--two gifts that came rising to the surface as I read your words, Katie. Thanks for giving me permission to remember them.

Jayne Martin said...

I'm jealous. I had no relationship with my father who was absent for most of my life and died when I was 17. I often wonder who I would have been today had I had the love of a wonderful father. You were very fortunate.

deborahjbarker said...

A lovely post Katie. My father died when I was 29 and I had only really begun to know him as an adult. 'Bob-o-link'is a great nickname - reminds me of a children's story book my sister had about a little elf called Bobolink - er yes, no real connection there!

Martha Gates-Mawson said...

Will love him and miss him always. We were lucky daughters.

Fash Boulevard said...

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