The Zoey Blog: A Gentle Reminder of a Powerful Feeling FINAL - COVER UNIVERSE EXPLORERS ORDER

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Gentle Reminder of a Powerful Feeling

I'm much too emotionally malleable. I read a story about a father and son and suddenly I don't want to leave my daughter's sight...I don't want to do anything but be with them, and soak up all of their amazingness. This morning I read an excerpt from Stephen Rodrick's latest book, The Magical Stranger: A Son's Journey in His Father's Life, and have spent the better part of my day befuddled. Lost. It doesn't take much. I'm very much an emotional creature, and just a few timely emotional blips on an otherwise empty radar can leave me lurching. Rodrick left me lurching.

The excerpt was nothing out of the ordinary, a five or six page slice of a 400 page hardcover book, the kind of excerpt that you typically find in any glossy magazine on the newsstands...Esquire, GQ, Men's Journal...but it's impact was extraordinary. I stumbled through my day thinking about time spent with my daughters, about the inherent difficulties of same gender parenting, of the choices that we make in our lives, about work and home and the role that we play in the lives of the people that we love most.

I grew up in a pretty mainstream, lower middle class, midwestern Canadian, rural/factory town kind of world. My life didn't look all that different from other kids. My parents were divorced, but it was 1982 and everyone's parent's were getting divorced. I played hockey and lacrosse. I had a dog. I could ride my bike for days. There wasn't a whole lot that identified me as different. There were the scars on my leg from a pretty horrific car accident, and of course, I was a twin, both setting me aside from many of my peers, I suppose, but tossed on the scale with the rest, I was your average kid. Stephen Rodrick was not. A Navy brat, and sadly, much too early in his life, a Navy son without a father, Rodrick weaves an emotionally mesmerizing story about his relationship with the magical stranger in his own home, his father. In it he breathes life and immediacy into the conflicts that rage in our children's hearts and minds when left to burn untended. There is rarely an adolescent who doesn't at some time take issue with his or her parents, but we rarely understand the embers that burn inside us, and we rarely lose the chance to right the wrongs. Not the case for Rodrick. He was a young boy, barely aware of his own feelings when his father, essentially a stranger, was ripped from him in a Navy mishap that left the boy un-anchored and drifting for the rest of his life. Rarely have I read something so startlingly capable of piercing the tough shells that we build around us as son and daughters, and then make thicker as fathers and mothers. When I was finished reading all I wanted to do was spend time with my daughters. Rodrick helps make it undeniably clear that the time we spend with our children, if it is positive, is our greatest contribution.

I think I'll hang out at home tonight, and invest in the future of these little girls who invest so much of their hearts in me. I'm not sure other generations were so blessed to be able to do such a simple thing. We are. Thanks to Stephen Rodrick I will. I probably would have anyway, but we all need reminding once in awhile. What if you lost that chance forever? What would you regret? I'm hoping my answer is, "nothing."


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