Before the age of 5, the sun that rose and set daily in my world was my father. He was fun. And he liked me unconditionally, loved me unconditionally. Many Saturdays, we woke early and all went somewhere I would like—the zoo, aquarium, a museum. I don’t remember a lot of details about him then, just the feeling of sunlight. After my parents separated and divorced, I saw him less and less and after a major conflict they had (instead of a custody battle in court), I saw him sporadically and did not know or recognize the person I saw though some part of me missed him intensely and couldn’t love myself without him. In my 20s, I saw him 2 or 3 times, once at my college graduation. I’ve seen him more often since, especially after his nearly-fatal heart attack 2 years ago. But it has been so long and I have gotten “so old” that I no longer have that daddy craving and am unsure what to do with the 62-year-old man I am faced with, who I so resemble.
I had substitute fathers, my parents’ fathers and brothers. I remember listening to "The Laughing Song" in the car with my New Orleans grandfather and falling asleep watching baseball with my Mississippi grandfather. But I grew up without the absolutist authority of the male in the household. As far as I am concerned, all
the emperors have no clothes. They come and go, they are needed and not, they are good and bad, they fortify and decimate. I am still trying to figure out what “father” and the particular one I have mean to me.