In the time following the memorial service for my father a steady stream of past memories have surfaced. He’d been sick for so long that the demands and image of his condition blocked any broader view of the relationship, particularly involving the formative first two decades of my life. And as it comes to me now, I realize how much there was about growing up with a man like Dad, creative and involved in all things, that shaped the person I am now. It was more because of who he was and how he lived than how we were raised that showed my brother and I what meaningful life was all about. With so many other demands on his time, full time job and writing his dissertation, he would manage to teach me card games when I was sick, focusing my mind on something other than being sick, and, he spent every Saturday over an extended time teaching a paralyzed man Fortran computer programming so he would be able to earn income. Giving himself so completely to whatever he was doing, there were no better or worse things to do.
As such a visible and assertive point of reference, parents are, first and foremost, models for how to be a person. Dad demonstrated the relationship between goodness and happiness, the joy of living as the reward of full involvement in whatever is happening.
Watching how engineers solved problems with diagrams seeded my deeply held belief that images are the best tool for figuring things out, that solutions had to be seen. A monument to inventiveness, resourcefulness and ingenuity, he was always there in my field of vision.
Without that point of reference, lost would be the best word to describe how I’ve felt since Dad died. Lost about how to continue with ideas that preoccupied me before. Lost in the changed emotional dynamics now missing a significant field of influence. A big area of my psychic landmass just slipped beneath the water and the map of everyday life will never be the same. It’s disorienting. Searching for that point of reference, it’s as though a mountain has been wiped from a familiar landscape. Navigating without that landmark will take some getting used to. The old map of ordinary living is wrong.
But I AM the accumulated layers of all the maps. Future layers won’t include Dad but the layers beneath them will mold their shape. The deeper the layer, the stronger the influence. The shape of my past life with Dad goes forward with me and influences my own way of being. In what I admire and in all that guides me I am grateful for what I’ve been given. Looking for deeper understanding I use images to externalize the obscure emotional dynamics within. Frequencies and fields of influence, vibrations and wave properties in my own visual language are so clearly layered onto to the appreciation of electromagnetic fields that grew from my father’s work with radar. The work continues and expands, and the idea flows onward. Ripples and influences are everywhere I look.