Sunday, June 21, 2009


One of the memories of my Dad that I have come to cherish over the years
was of a winter, Wisconsin night spent reading Tennyson out loud on the living room floor. True to form, I was assigned Ulysses for that week's English project. And true to form, I had grumbled about it over family dinner (as a poem of such lofty prose intimidates me still to this day). And, true to form, my father volunteered with a knowing smile to "check it out together".

The first twenty minutes was spent in simple repetition. I started, rather begrudgingly and in much haste while laying sloppily on my back, pages dangling in mid air. Then it was his turn. He lay the spine carefully in his lap and smoothed each side of paper. "Ulysses" by "Alfred Lord Tennyson" he read. And started through it again. He read slowly and with great care over each phrase and word. By the end, I was sitting up next to him.

"But Dad, I still don't get it."

And so we began together from the beginning, asking only questions.

"What do you think this indicates? Why did he choose that word? Is he just talking about a voyage? Why that point of view? What could that metaphor be indicating?"

And slowly but surely, as if he had known all along the exact moment I would begin to see meaning, the answers started to arrive and I began to appreciate the piece for what it was-a masterpiece of reflection, capturing the spirit of a warrior, the importance of legacy, and the promise of a beyond.

I fell asleep that night having gleaned Truth from another world and my Dad had let me steer the boat that led us there.

That was a lesson I have not soon forgotten. Anytime I am met with something in life that I "just do not get", I remember the profound simplicity of sitting up, asking questions, and searching through the Words. The answers may not always come as quickly as I would like them to, but He always does answer, and meaning always does arrive.

And so it was that my Dad (with a little help from Ulysses) taught me what it means:

"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

Dad, "That which we are, we are",
and I owe so much of that to you.

I love you.