When I started coming to Birmingham to see Lynn, my Dad told me that the only thing he knew about Birmingham was Vulcan -- when he'd been in the Navy in Pensacola, he and some buddies had come up one time on leave. He didn't remember much else about the trip, but he remembered that big iron statue.
Today is the tenth anniversary of his death. I got in the habit, after I moved here, of going up to Vulcan on the 23rd, and looking out over the city, just thinking about him. Sometimes I'd tie a little pouch of Indian tobacco to the rail. A little prayer for him. To him.
Vulcan's been undergoing rehab for the last couple of years, and hasn't been receiving visitors. When the the park reopened last March, my first excited thought was that I'd be able to come back again at Christmas... honor my dad... just spend some quiet time with him at this most marvelously somber and gloriously giddy time of the year.
It's been unusually cold this week, even below freezing, and when I stopped at the park early this afternoon, there were a few snowflakes drifting down. I huddled in my big black coat, and looked at the memorial brick that we bought for him, and then walked, slowly, up around the tower, pausing to look out over the city that has become so much home. As I turned to go back to my car I was grinning, thinking how appropriate it was that on this anniversary, even down here, we'd be having something not unlike Wisconsin weather.
Each of my parents gave me wonderful things. From my mother, the intellectual curiousity, the taste for philosophy and great art and music. From my dad, the passion to be scrupulously honest and true, to live each day simply, faking nothing. From both of them, to meet my responsibilities, to be joyous in friendship and family, and to be grateful for the gifts that I've been given.
I am a ridiculously lucky man. My father walks alongside me every single day.