Hold On To Love

I created this song in April 2020, while assisting my father as he faced the invasion of cancer into his spine.  I invite you to listen as you read my words and witness the love that shone from his eyes.

In the days and long hours of not knowing that inched their way moment by moment towards my father’s passing,
one thing kept rising to the surface

Again and again

One theme kept rearing its gracious head

What is that bond that holds our flight through life intact?

What is the mysterious yet intimate force that cracks open the mourning heart in a  searing blaze, yet still soothes and heals through its tender touch?

Lifting the weight of life’s burden as he courageously faced the coming unknown and the all too present pain, my father taught me a thing or two

And he taught them again and again.

The word itself is so small, perhaps too small to hold on to as it sifts through time.

It is so small we can overlook it and set it in the back corner, out of mind.

One small word to describe, and create a whole realm of being.

My father knew that word.

He brought it forth through intentional creation, deliberately building his life’s legacy from its foundation.

He built his life to be an expression of it and an expansion of it.

He never sought to describe it or got too mushy about it, but he nurtured it and gave it breath wherever he went.

What word? So simple yet so profound?

That word, is, yes, of course, that word is love.

With Don, FBI pilot park ranger wiffle ball champ who played PT boat captain as a child at the helm of it all.

He stood proud and firm commanding the troops throughout life’s hurricanes – sending us wee ones scurrying for pots and pans to hold in the floods as Betsy battered us through the eye of the needle.

And through so many of my childhood and adult  battles, he held his ground, though I tested him time and time again.

I resisted his navigation skills more times that he could tell.

Yet as navigator of his glowing ship he swooped me up and took us all graciously along for the ride.

His love –  crafted so knowingly from his toolbox filled with kisses (the girls called them mackers)

Tools to build a life on, intentional love and expressions of compassion.  Love as a verb, discovered, (no, created) each and every day.

Love as commitment to happiness, to peace, and kindness to all he encountered.

Expressing things of the heart didn’t come easy for my dad.  He rarely found words for those soft inner places of connection. He was more drawn to committed gestures, like refusing to cut his hair till the troops in Afghanistan were sent home, or buying Christmas heifers.

I remember one day in high school when we rode silently in the car as was usual. I was surprised to hear him suddenly say how beautiful the sunset was and heard the soft wistfulness in his voice.  It surprised me – I’d thought he was so far away from knowing love and beauty at that time in our lives.  That surprise was a shock of awakening to me – realizing how I’d put him in a box of unfeelingness, simply because he was of few words.

In his last few days I got to see him newly again – a deeply complex man who had worked hard to figure it all out.

He figured it all out.

He worked out the puzzle in his methodical way.

He figured it out logically with deliberate precision.

He figured it all out and came to live his life from it.

There is only love! It is the  everything and everyone.

Love is what matters
Hold on to it
Nurture it

Scrunch up your face into that sweet silly gesture of kisses – and give me some of those shiny eyed mackers Dad!

No words are needed,
So don’t worry dad, bopu, pops, don

I’ll hold on
We’ll hold on

We’ll hold on to each other

We’ll hold on to love.

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