Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Words of the Magi

My husband Mike is a good father.

He is not just a good father to our seven year-old boy, Mikalh, but to the older two boys–fair-skinned, hyper, silly–that came attached to me in our marriage. He is teaching them to program computers. He has for four years taken them to Tae Kwon Do and then stood with my eldest as the two of them received black belts together. He has sat in cars with aghast fifth graders and explained about sex. He has taken a child with a large rock to the police station to be told off so that child would learn that we do not throw rocks at brothers. He has taken accident-prone Devin to the emergency room and handed them his debit card over and over and over over, grimly and with irritation, sweetly and with love. He calls all of our boys "my sons."

Every weekday he goes to work. He works all week, often taking time off to take a child to a doctor's appointment, to attend a performance, to run an errand. He comes home, does dishes, wipes counters, listens to my writing, reads books aloud, and kisses the soft brown hair of our youngest. On the weekend, because he loves me, he builds chicken coops, lays soaker hoses, fixes sprinklers and mops. "Lie down," he tells me. "It's OK. I'll do the rest. You have a headache. Just lie down."

For Father's Day, I have nothing to give him. I stand at stores, look at cards and turn and walk away. Nothing there is anything he would want. I do not have $200 to pay someone else to finish the chicken coop. I do not have $60 to take him out to a steak dinner. I cannot find a card that is worthy of him. So I have ignored Father's Day right up until I can feel it touch my toes and then leaped back in panic, not sure what to do. I do not want to make an empty gesture. I do not want to send him a bouquet of hammers, make him an omelette, blow him a kiss.

I want, like Della Dillingham Young, to cut off my hair and buy for him a token of my affection. I want to show up prickly-headed and full of love with something that he dearly wants. I will instead hack off some words, which grow back quicker, and gather them in a napkin. I will set them on the table with his coffee.

"I have no gift for you today but words.," I will say. "I have no words but thank you.

Thank you for being father to all my sons."


  1. You are a lucky woman and you have very lucky sons. And for the record, I think Mike's pretty fortunate, too.

  2. This brought tears to my eyes. You are a lucky woman, but then I think you know it

  3. This is so very touching. What a beautiful Father's Day gift. (Have a great day, Mike!)

  4. I do not believe there is another gift more appropriate nor more appreciated than a gift of one's time, talent and love. This gift had all three.
    One person cannot make a marriage work, two can make it heaven or hell. We can see the heaven in your words. Many more years of happy napkin tales to you both.

  5. I can't count how many times your posts have moved me to tears. You have a great man by your side, and he has a great woman by his.

  6. Absolutely beautiful post and tribute, what a guy!

  7. Sitting here crying. That's the most perfect father's day gift. Ever.

  8. It sure beats an ugly tie and a artificially scented soap-on-a-rope. :)

    Thanks for sharing it with us all.


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Faith in Ambiguity by Tara Adams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License