The Guilty Party

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Papa, My Father

I have just finished reading Papa, My Father, by Leo Buscaglia. The book was copyrighted in 1989, which makes it just over twenty years old. I have had it on my bookshelf for just a few years, prior to that it was at my sister's home and before that it belonged to our father. I think it was a Father's Day gift to him, but I honestly don't recall if it was me or my sister who gave it to him and there is no inscription in the front to help. That in itself is a clue that I was not the source. I was, and am, usually pretty good about putting a little something in gifted books, perhaps I have been practicing in case I ever find myself seated at a large folding table stacked high with copies of a book I have written, facing a line of readers, each of them eager to have me sully a copy or three with a sincere, personal note dashed off with one of the dozens of Sharpies my publicist has supplied me with. But in this book there was no "Happy Father's Day, 1989, Love Alan" , just one of those address labels one receives unsolicited from various charities stuck to the inside cover which identified Dad as the owner. That's what he used those labels for. I suppose the book could have even come from our mother; she was, as I recall, a fan of Buscaglia's, never missing the programs he had on PBS in the 80's.

The book is short, just 125 pages long, with a fair portion of those pages devoted to full page quotations from personages mostly recognizable to me (I've no idea who Carey Winfrey is or was, but his quote, which is the first to appear, reassured me greatly concerning the relative unimportance of father-son games of catch in assessing parental success.). But its impact is, I think, substantial. Buscaglia tells us much about his father, much about himself, and much about a life well lived. A life that had little in the way of what we would consider advantages, nothing in the way of a sense of entitlement, and much that illustrates the maxim You Get Out of Life What You Put Into It. What Leo's papa put into his life was his heart, his full attention, his willingness, no his earnest need, to learn and grow, and his wide-eyed wonder at the world and all its wonders, which he found every day, around every corner, and very especially in his own home and garden.

I will be reading Papa, My Father again. I need reminders like that on a regular basis.

Oh, and here is one of the quotes from the book. This one is from J.B. Priestly. Him I've heard of.

"To show a child what has once delighted you, to find a child's delight added to your own, so that there is now a double delight seen in the glow of trust and affection. This is happiness."

I like that.

Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise.

No comments:

A Bit About Me

My photo
I am a writer with a longtime interest in photography. I'm a dad, husband, photographer, and not very good guitarist. My first novel, Boomerang, is available in both paperback and ebook form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and As a matter of fact, my second novel, The Baer Boys, can be found at exactly the same places.