It Takes Brokenness to Find It
Syndicated from, Aug 06, 2023

2 minute read


March 29, 2013

Today is my father's birthday. If  he were living today, he'd be 102. I cannot even imagine that. He was 67 when he died, and that's too young, but lately, as I stare at some hard realities of aging and mortality, I begin to appreciate the fact that  he didn't have to endure a long period of frailty, pain, and dependence. My father was himself to very the end, brilliant and good and a force of nature, the most important person in my world, and I miss him terribly even now.  Maybe especially now.

I find solace in these words from a poem my friend Naomi Shihab Nye wrote after the death of her own beloved father: 

There's a way not to be broken that takes brokenness to find it.

So I'm drawing from a deep pool of love and and remembrance in my heart, looking for the strength and healing that brokenness may reveal, and I'm honoring my father on this gray Gaviota day. Here's a poem I am sure I've posted previously, maybe even more than once, that describes my feelings about him. In fact, it probably sums up the feelings many of us have about fathers long gone and gratitude unspoken. For what did we know of love's austere and lonely offices? We can understand these things only later in our own lives.

Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early

and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,

then with cracked hands that ached

from labor in the weekday weather made

banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.

When the rooms were warm, he’d call,

and slowly I would rise and dress,

fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,

who had driven out the cold

and polished my good shoes as well.

What did I know, what did I know

of love’s austere and lonely offices?


Syndicated with permission from Still Amazed. Cynthia is a writer, former teacher, Fellow of the South Coast Writing Project, co-founder of the Gaviota Writers group, and frequent contributor to The Santa Barbara Independent. She is the creator of an oral history project, The Living Stories Collective, and a blog, Still Amazed, both ongoing labors of love. In all her writing, she seeks to document wonder, reconcile both the joy and the sadness of being alive, and offer glimmers that might make others feel less alone. A native of New York, she has lived with her husband on a California cattle ranch for thirty years, and the implausibility of this delights her. She is a charter member of the Tribe of Those Who Try, and, as her blog title suggests, she is Still Amazed.

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