No, I'm not being idealistic - 'The Way Life Should Be' is a slogan that appears on many welcome signs leading into the state of Maine. Is it true? Let's see...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

My dad was born on July 12th, 1947 in Arkansas. He moved to Seattle a bit after he was born, and he grew up there since the early 1950’s. Apart from some time in the merchant marines he spent almost all of his life there.

Dad and me at the beach - when I was in high school
I knew him to be a very private person and he wasn’t the kind of guy who would go on and on about himself, which means that I never new a whole lot about what his life was like before I came along. He loved Jazz, and Birkenstocks. One of the most important connections he had was with his support group, which he attended every week and was involved with from before I was born, until he died.

He struggled with diabetes and liver cancer for the last couple of years of his life. I was away at college so I wasn’t there when he died – but I remember getting the call from my mom while I was in rehearsals for Martin Luther King Night at SCU. If I couldn’t be home when it happened, a part of me is glad that I was there instead.

my parents
A nice memory I have of him was once, when I was a kid and the family was outside mowing our huge yards. When we did yard work my dad would turn into a drill sergeant, and I always hated doing it. Once he took me around to try to run the lawn mover on the front lawn but something wasn’t working. I think a part of the mower was loose or something, I forget. [I don’t remember the exact circumstances, but it was something like this.] He tried to tighten it and was having trouble finding the right sized wrench for the bolt, and I stood behind him, rigid, staring, waiting for further instruction. Instead of grumbling something under his breath like he usually did in situations like that, he turned to me and said: It looks like we don’t have the tools we want for this situation, but “One must learn to make do.”

It was a rare moment to hear him think out loud like that because, like I said, he didn’t talk much, and when he did it wasn’t usually in big-picture truths like that. I think that’s why it stuck with me so much. I can still hear him saying those words when I’m trying to fix something, or trying to make something work the way I want it to but it won't. Sometimes, you just have to make do.

If he were still here, I would tell him that I love him, and I know he deserved more than what he got. I still try to tell my friends about him, and what my life was like when he was still here, to show that he is still a part of my story.

Happy Father’s Day to all!


  1. Thank you for sharing this, Mandela. I now have a new mantra "just make do." Thanks again.

  2. thanks for sharing your dad with us, friend.

  3. thanks friends. sending love!