Today is my dad’s birthday, he would have been 63 years old, but sadly I lost him to a sudden heart attack five months ago. Although my grief has settled a bit he is very much on my mind this month so I thought I’d use books as a form of therapy; seeing the commonality of loss and gain a sense of normalcy in something that doesn’t sit so comfortably in one’s reality.
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. I wasn’t two pages in before a sense of familiarity crept under my skin. The role of nature in her life, a father’s wisdom of patience, and the overwhelming and selfish sense of loss that causes you to turn in on yourself. I also discovered there was a thirty year difference between her and her father, just like me and mine. Helen and I are in the same club; that was the instant draw for me, but I also got lost in the tale of this woman’s obsession. I found myself forgetting about my own loss pages and pages at a time and began to wander with her in the journey of her and her goshawk.
All Over But the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg is the struggle of a relationship with a distant father and the overwhelming love for an ever present mother. Although personally my father was very present in my life, he did have a drinking problem. The way this novel discusses that issue, the fear of following those footsteps, and the discovery of a sense of forgiveness was real for me. It was also a beautifully written memoir and the importance of the author’s mother mirrored my own, which is even greater now since the passing of my dad.
History of the Rain by Niall Williams. My father and I love books, and when he retired he had vowed to read every book in the local library I worked at, but he only lived for six months. This novel is a love of books, the written word, and through that finding a father. From Ruth’s bedridden post she makes discoveries of her father through her ancestors, the Swains, and through the nine hundred and fifty eight books sitting under the attic window that’s garlanded with Ireland’s rain. Despite the subject matter this book had such hope in it.