It's a lot of pressure... trying to write a Father's Day post as the proprietor of something that could certainly be considered a "Daddy Blog," and I have to admit I'm not feeling particularly profound at the moment. My RSS reader has been alive these last few days with recollections of Dad from all over the place, and of course here in the U.S. the news has been dominated since Friday afternoon by the sudden passing of Tim Russert, a reporter and political commentator who was also a famous father, and son, and incorporated both relationships into the public persona that millions here came to know and appreciate.
I never met Tim Russert. I saw him a couple of months ago in an airport, and before I could go over and introduce myself he bumped into Charlie Rose and I just sat there watching them carry on a conversation that seemed extremely satisfying on both sides and almost singular in its exclusivity... like Hemingway and Fitzgerald sitting in a cafe in Paris charting a course to the bottom of a bottle of wine, or Michael Jordan standing in the supermarket check-out line and turning around to find Tiger Woods.
Russert's Sunday morning sandbox, NBC's Meet the Press, was actually one of the few places where you could pretty much count on hearing something from a person in authority that wasn't entirely pre-programmed or processed, and only because he was good enough to dig in and get it. His enthusiasm and affection for his subject matter was clear, and infectious, and in addition to a steady supply of A-List guests, he provided a calming and reassuring presence on the television screen on Sunday mornings just by being there, like Johnny Carson did on weeknights at 11:30 for so many years.
I haven't heard about funeral arrangements yet, but have no doubt that the event is going to be like a Lunch at Michael's column that never ends, going on so long it ultimately crashes the computer servers, overwhelmed by the sheer luminosity.
We're going out to my parents' today, for some lunch and margaritas by the pool, which was opened last week and, as my Dad unfortunately reported yesterday, is "still green." Apparently there was some problem with the initial chemical mix, we'll have to see how bad it is when we get there. Let's just say the girls have been looking forward to getting in the water.
Gwen arranged the ultimate Father's Day gift for me this year, a weekend in which I was able to sleep until 8:15 a.m. on both days. Funny how your perceptions change, for most of my life, 8:15 on a Saturday or Sunday would have been getting up ridiculously early, now it's luxuriously late, and rare, and very much appreciated. But losing all that sleep has been worth it, without question.
Madison's gift is pictured up above, a pen that has been carefully encased in clay - now hardened - resembling her depiction of her father, me. "You can take this to work, and use it," she told me excitedly. And I plan to do just that.
Since Madison and Ava learned to speak, I've heard the word "Dad" uttered in my general direction probably a few million times by now. There are moments when it's the most cherished acknowledgment I could ever imagine, and others (what more could you possibly want, right this second, with the Jets driving for a game-tying touchdown that they are virtually certain not to achieve?) when it feels like a frustrating and mind-numbing sentence. Most of the time it's somewhere at the upper end of the range, but wherever it falls, it's who I am. It defines my existence and the things I do, what I'm thinking about and what matters to me. And, as I've written before on here, I wouldn't have it any other way.