This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, June 16, 1999

June 16, 1999 - Father's Day

While these two events are not exactly equal, they do teach similar lessons.

The first event is that one day you realize your eyes need adjustment both for distance and for nearness. So you get bifocals.

The second event is that one day your last parent dies. In my case, it was my father. But once again, I found that I began to see through two kinds of lenses.

One looks back. My father and I went through five stages. The first, the one before I remember anything, was when he apparently adored me. (Here I'm relying on photographs and the testimony of my father's friends.) The second was a period when (at least this is my honest memory; he probably had a different view) he verbally berated me, from about the age of four until the time I left home at 17. The third was when we mostly ignored each other. He was working swing shifts at the power plant. I was in college, then hitchhiked around the country.

The fourth was when we decided that we kind of liked each other, and began to seek each other's company. It was all a little tentative.

After my mother's death, and on through his own long illness, we reached a fifth stage. We began to reckon with one another, where "reckoning" means "taking each other's measure." There are bonds of blood and time that reveal things to the patient eye.

There were times when I helped dad. When mom died I found out that my father had never written a check in his life, had no idea what the costs of running a house might be. I helped him work that through, identify his revenues and expenditures, set a budget, define regular routines.

There were times when he helped me. There was some assistance with a down payment for my first home.

One kind of lens looks forward. Here I'm thinking of dad's connection to my son Perry, then just three. They lit up like Christmas trees around each other, both of them grinning and following each other from room to room. I'd had that kind of connection to my granddad, too, and it shocked me to see it again. But it also changed me, matured me, made me profoundly grateful. Perry and my dad never had the chance to build the kind of long term relationship I had with my mother's father.

I balance the richness of my experience against the aborted promise of my son's bond with my father and I am saddened. Not for me. For Perry.

It just might be that all of life is about stories. There are stories we tell ourselves. There are stories we tell our peers. There are stories we tell our elders. But most important are the stories our elders tell to us, and we tell to our children. Not all of these tales are true. Nonetheless, they are deeply important.

Last week I looked at our program schedule for our libraries. I was very proud. The Douglas Public Library District offers some 50 programs every single week. Most of them involve storytelling. Just recently, many of those programs have been about Father's Day.

I hope that those of you with young children were able to attend. And for those of you whose children are too old for storytimes, I have a request.

Tell a story to your children. Tell them about your fathers.

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