A column about history, culture, policy, and things in between.
I wrote a post in June titled Father's Day; a fond remembrance of and tribute to my Dad. That post appears in the column immediately to the right.
A friend who read it was kind enough to suggest and then loan me a book called Messages From My Father, by New Yorker columnist, Calvin Trillin. It was an absolutely delightful read, full of whimsical remembrances and winsome reflections; a "pocket rocket" of a book. "Pocket" in that it is small and short; "rocket" in that it is packed with good and powerful content. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
The differences between Abe Trillin and my Dad were significant. My Dad was raised as a Roman Catholic in Kohler, Wisconsin; Trillin's father was raised in the Jewish faith in Kansas City. But it was their similarities I found compelling. Both were the children of immigrants, and both had humorous and singular proclivities; habits that could border on the maddening. But what was most compelling was the bedrock sense of conviction and purpose they shared, and predicated their lives upon.
A more poignant and personal connection was that while growing up, Calvin Trillin was known in his house as "Bud" or "Buddy" My father's given name was Rene, but he was always known as Bud. Conversely, our son has been known in our home and circles as "Buddy", a name so ubiquitously adherrant that even his elementary school Princpal came to use that monniker when referring to him. As a professional writer, Trillin explored the depths of his father's life and creeds with greater clarity and skill than I, and therin lies the strength of my recommendation for this book. Each page is filled with pathos, heart-warming anecdotes, and at times, laugh out loud humor. I read this book on vacation in the early mornings as I watched the sun rise over Michigan's Portage Lake, my only companion a mug of strong coffee. I frequently laughed out loud, prompted by Abe Trillin's proclivities, and his son's skill at relating them. When you are alone reading a book and experience audible laughter - that's when you KNOW something is funny.
But the overriding takeaway of this book is the the realization that the life his father lived still speaks to Calvin Trillin; hence the name of the book. Its greatest gift is that it underscores the importance and impact of a life well and faithfully lived; and the irreplacable legacy that provides across generations.
If you are a father or know one, do yourself a favor and read this book. It has me thinking about what "messages" my kids will receive from me, long after they are gone from our home, and ultimately, after I am gone from their lives.
And that is something worth thinking about.