Sunday, June 19, 2005

Patriarchal Pandora and a new found feather for my father

Every male that I know of keeps a chest of mired masculinity burrowed somewhere deeply inside their immediate living environment. Sometimes the chest is an old NIKE shoe-box or a chipped briefcase. Sometimes the chest is on-line or stashed in soft-core passges, nestled between makeshift matresses. Sometimes the chest is a bucket of failed memories, burnt out bric-a-brac randomly arranged inside the lonely vectors of the man's pulsating heart-- a wild sputter of echoed aches, lost throbs and smudged glories.

Sifting through the contents of these private treasures is like probing into the archeology of the feral continent of a man's heart. The peeping pandora finds out of what an individual lives for-- you rake through his mistakes, his foibles, his sins--you glimpse through a keyhole and catch a snippet of his forbidden love, the morningdew still moist from childhood, the electric frisson of his first kiss--the sudden arrival of his life.

Some men keep pictures of wives or girlfiends or ex-lovers or children. Some men keep cigar wrappers, condoms, phone numbers, forlorn love letters, jewlery, vacant bottles of cologne, valuable baseball cards, jaundice yearbooks, varsity letters. Some men keep overdue bills, passports, family heirlooms, birth certificates.

In my own chest at home (a self-ordained muse box) I have rough drafts of a few of my early stories, two rings that belonged to my father, photographs of ex-girlfriends, a CD of my own father's funeral I still haven't accumulating the gall to audibly relive.

I have pictures of females. The proverbial "one that got away", a portrait of the blonde-streaked feminist-bitch who smashed my heart into fragments of chipped pottery, another photograph of the woman who chose to marry for money and so did.

And letters. Inky strokes of palsied promises and violated vows. Letters fused with loopy feminist handwriting--long paragraphs paragraphs festooned with shapes and breath dredging up a memory, a voice, a warmth.

Here's a letter I found a few weeks back while sifting through an old chest of my late-father's personal belongings. The letter was composed forty years ago, by a gentlemen named Russ Peterson. I have no clue who Russ Peterson is. At the time the letter was written my father would have been seventeen years old, graduating from High school, ready to attending the University where his only son has recently been employed.

I post the letter today in lieu of father's day and as a meditation of manhood. I simply request that those who peruse it, take a moment to think about their own lineage.

Dear Friend Arthur,

Often I think of you and keep you in remebrance and in my prayers. I know you are graduating from High School this spring but know not the date; thus this may be late. Nevertheless, I must send this to you. I went to five stores attempting to find a card that would express what I wanted to say to you but to no avail, thus I hope you will not mind this simple note of greeting.

I pray God our heavenly Father, His gracious blessings for you as you soon are to graduate. I thank our Lord he has given to you His light and understanding. May the Holy Spirit lead you and give to you the inisght to use what you have learned in school so far as preparation for fuller service to Him and fellow men in whatever that calling may be. I thank our Lord, Arthur, that He has given to you faith in Christl love and hope and a Christian outlook on life. I know that in years to c ome you will continue as you have in the past, to live for Jesus, and to HIs honor and glory. May he give to you confidence in His guidance, a strond trust in His love and grace as you face new decisions and uncertainties and possible doubts for the future. Above all, may your youthful and loving heart ever find peace and refuge in the loving heart of Jesus, in whom we have fellowship with one another.

I say this not sentimentally, but in all honesty and sincerity, you are a fine boy, credit to your family and a jewel in the kingdom of God. I recall one day, Arthur, while you were still attending Christ School (8th grade) you had just come off patrol duty and was riding north on your bicycle on Starr Street. Some small boys from school were playing with a ball in the playground (you perhaps do not remember the incident but I will always remember it). As you passed the playground the ball ran into the street and one of the little first graders ran after the ball. Just as he was to step out into the street (there was traffic) he noticed you had stopped your bike. You laid down your bike on the curbing, went out into the street, retrieved the ball to the curb and handed the ball to the little boy.

As I stood in the library alone and looking out I witnessed what you did. I prayed a prayer to Jesus which went something like this: "Thank you Lord for this fine, wonderful boy. In love for thee he has shown love for this little boy. O Lord, guide him, guard and protect him in service for Thee."

I am thus confident Arthur, that by the Holy Spirit within you and your love for the Savior who has redeemed you and loves you to the end, you will always love Him and serve Him who has done so much for you and me.

Thus, in whatever calling he will lead you, I know you will be doing it in service for the Lord Jesus. To this end then, dear Arthur, I commend you to the care and keeping of our precious Savior, the Lord Jesus.

Greet Dad and mom, Larry and little Chris. We remember you all and think of you often.

Your friend,

Russ Peterson

dated Sunday, May 30th, 1965

Happy Fathers day, daddy!!! Love you buddy.

David Arthur Von Behren

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