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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Fathers Day, Old Man

My Old Man by Rosanne Cash

The old man is laughing tonight
He's young beyond his fears
But then the smile drops from his eyes
And we all wind up in tears

The old man's crying tonight
'Cause it all happened so fast
He's frightened by the future
Embarrassed by the past

So let him be who he wants to be
'Cause he ain't ever gonna be young again
And let him see who he needs to see
'Cause he never had too many friends
And ask him how he remembers me
'Cause I want to know where I stand
How I love my old man

The old man's restless tonight
Just trying to kill his pain
He believes what he says he believes
But that don't make him a saint

The old man's lonesome tonight
And he just wants to go home
All those fools who stand in his way
Why can't they leave him alone

So let him be who he wants to be
'Cause he ain't ever gonna be young again
And let him see who he needs to see
'Cause he never had too many friends
And ask how he remembers me
'Cause I want to know where I stand
How I love my old man

A father eventually becomes "the Old Man." He matures with a marred veneer and a weathered face full of numerous lines and creases. He settles comfortably into old spaces long lost to modern fashion and bold, new ideas. The Old Man often acts crazy, ridiculous and grumpy but occasionally flashes smiles and loving eyes full of sparkle and polish.

The Old Man carefully selects those things he shares to bring to light. He reminisces to relive the old times when piss and passion quickened his blood. While around friends, he recounts tales of his escapades that rival epics of daring and adventure, and he bends his words to embellish his stories with memorable details. He often repeats himself because he really has nothing new to say. Still, make no mistake, The Old Man cherishes sharing the "good old days."

The Old Man hears many things you think he doesn't. He listens carefully while waiting patiently to say "I've been there before" to let you know you aren't the only Pilgrim in the woods. Then, he specifically does his "duty" and directs you with his last words of advice about "what to do." But, he is the first to know you are not going to listen since you are as stubborn and prone to missteps as he.

The Old Man understands exactly what he has done. He has come to terms with mistakes and regrets. He relies upon the good graces of the Master and his close friends and the passage of time to soothe all offenses. He has tired of playing "the dumb ass" and the "hater" yet he still makes some of his same old errors for he is who he is -- an imperfect human relic. 

The love that he exhibits flows from deep wells within. As it makes its way to expression, the Old Man's love appears much less spirited and energetic than carefree, youthful affection. It has aged into a touch, a gesture, a word, a simple acknowledgement of something from the core. In his mind, the Old Man favors a rich tranquillity between souls and the harmony of simply sharing the good times. He appears to lack affection at times, yet he never intends to deliver the smallest neglect.

The Old Man dances to a slow rhythm through his precious days. He begs others who move so quickly around him to take their time and embrace what he knows soon will be gone. Yet, he realizes he was once swift, and his past vitality helped set the anxious, frantic pace of the real world today. The Old Man, once an avid player who believed he would never slow down, is now content to be a spectator. He jeers the confounded idiots around him and cheers the old school heroes as he realizes he soon must fade away.

The Old Man becomes mellow easily. He is prone to become lonely as he finds less and less association within his increasingly confined world. He would love to do what he could once do -- things from the last year, things from the past decades, things involving lost passions. These things he dreams about, and in his ethereal, perfect dreams, he relives his precious days. In his waking hours, the Old Man sheds some honest tears, not so much for the past but for daily activities he still longs to do. One by one he loses the ability to do the the physical and mental essentials he cherishes, and he curses at age for these losses. He becomes lonely within his own ever-decreasing boundaries.

The Old Man wonders a lot. He considers the smallest next steps and seemingly insignificant changes. A creature of habit, he often rejects any mandatory acceptance of "the new." So, he relies upon all of us to assist him, and he eventually adjusts in time to all inevitability. With tired eyes, he looks at the sunset and understands much more than most give him credit for understanding. Don't judge him too harshly. He has walked the long road. The Old Man steadfastly believes in the next rising son.

Happy Fathers Day, Old Man. I love you and miss you so.

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