Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Father's Day message - being good enough

First off, I want to let everyone know that I'm feeling great. The previous post "Bloody Hell" was anything but an objective account of my actual health - more a peek into the squirrel cage that is my mind sometimes. Some of you of you have contacted me to express concern and support...thanks, and know that I'm well.
As for Father's Day...well, Beth tells me that my little boy had a great idea for a gift. "Let's get Daddy a new blog!"
Beth- "Great idea!"
Then Colm and Tess took it a step further. "Let's get him a new computer!"
I kinda like the direction this is going, but I'm not holding my breath.

I'm looking forward to getting on the golf course with my own father (and my brothers) next week. The golf course is one of those venues where I am brought back to some of my deepest and oldest childhood bonds with my father. My life with him has been marked in part by an abiding obsession with balls and games. He infected me with a delight for the feel and the heft of a ball in your hands, for the myriad possibilities of putting it in flight, for the subtle signs of speed, arc, spin and angle that meant the difference between being in the right spot and being too short, too slow, too far, or just too bad.

He also mentored me in the much more problematic exploration of those shadowy areas where personal ambition butts up against physical pain, fear and personal limitations, where individual desires grate against the dictates of coaches, and where self knowledge is hard won in the context of becoming a teammate. My childhood with my father was at times intense, but in a way that gave my life meaning and a sense of urgency. The games we played were both fun and serious. My dad entertained and diverted me but he mostly challenged me.
On the most basic level, he challenged me to beat him. He needled and cajoled me, he teased and taunted me, but mostly he just beat me like a drum. It wasn't always pretty or pleasant. I couldn't ever win, it seemed, yet somehow my father walked that fine line - he never extinguished my competitive desires; rather, he fanned my hopes that one day I would win, but only if I was good enough.
My father was better than me for as long as I could remember being a child. I only managed to beat him in basketball when I was nearly fully grown and his own skills had been eroded a little by age. Even this "victory" of mine was another lesson in the implacable ways of life. My chief (and sole) regret about being a father at this stage of my life is that I won't be able to be that physical force, that immovable object, against which my young children will be able to measure least not on the ball field. Obviously, I'll have to find other ways to fulfill my fatherly obligations to my kids.
In the end, what I've taken away from all of this is the rather humbling realization that becoming good enough is a lifelong task, full of reversals, and that being good enough is not always enough to secure victory, but that being good enough is its own reward.

It's also the best way I know how to honor my father.
Happy Father's Day dad,

p.s. - for what it's worth, I've never yet beaten my father in a round of golf... some things never change.


Blogger adam jk gallardo said...

Kevin -- this is a terrific homage to your father. Happy father's day to yo, by the way. It made me think about what my dad meant to me. I may need to collect those thoughts and write 'em down at some point.

And I'm very relieved to hear tat your feeling better -- or at least are at a better place to view what's going on.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of my favorite memories: *hearing of Grandad's BBall team being escorted back to Pendleton by the state police after an upset against LG
*"Guh shot", which I still use.
*You coming to all my BBall games even though I wasn't very good:)
*shooting H-O-R-S-E on various driveways and playgrounds
Happy Father's Day to you and Grandad:)
Love, Erin

4:04 PM  

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