For my father

In all times

And in all lives

There are moments filled

With the sincerest intimacy

You and I

Shared such moments

And I thank you

And love you

For those times

***

Note: I wrote this the day after my father died on August 16, 1969. I wrote it alone in his room. I was 15. My father was and is the greatest gift my life has ever given me.

I Miss Her Always Now

Two days after she died I received a package from her in the mail.  In it was a St. Christopher’s Medal. Inscribed on the back were the words:

Peter

I will always be in your heart

Love

Mom

Her name was Leona Patricia Clark and she gave birth to me on October 2, 1953 in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen. She was a single 20-year-old Catholic girl from Bridgeport, Connecticut. She had not been dealt an easy hand in life. Her mother died when she was three and a few weeks later, her father, an alcoholic, left the house early one morning and never returned, leaving my mother and her 12-year-old brother Frank on their own. Summoning up strength-of-spirit from God knows where, Frank put my mother on the back of his bicycle and peddled some 20 miles or so to an aunt and uncle’s house. There they were raised.

Seven days after I was born and against all her sweet heart wanted, my mother surrendered me for adoption.

We would not see each other again for nearly 34 years years. Not until I found her and we were reunited  on January 8, 1987 in Stamford Connecticut. Over the years I would learn what I’d always known to be true; my mother was my emotional and spiritual familiar. She was my beginning, my heart and soul, the light that got me through my days of homelessness, the deep heart spiritual soil from which I was formed.  There was, we both knew before and after we were reunited, a connection  so deep and powerful between us it was a universe unto itself, untouchable and unfathomable by any but the two of us.

Now, when life strikes hard as it did today when the home we’d thought was ours fell from our grasp, I think of my mother and the tears flow and she is with me still and I miss her always now.

Me & Mom 10-2-2000 a

Letter to My Father

Dear Dad,

I was going to write a blog piece about you today. It was 41 years ago today that you left the world. In thinking about what to write I realize I do not have the skill (does anyone?) to write something that truly reveals how loving and accepting you were of me, and of everyone you knew.  I can state facts about you. That you were born on February 20, 1914 and given the world you grew up in, remarkably enough had not a speck of racism in your being, nor, for that matter, a speck of homophobia or anti-Semitism, none of those things.

I can say that from the beginning of my life I was safe being who I was with you. All you ever wanted for me was for me to be me, to be happy being me. I can say that when you died my ability to feel safe in the world being me died with you, or so I thought. I regained it some years ago when I got sober.

I did not learn until many years after your death that the 20th Armored Division you served with in World War II was one of the three divisions that liberated the Dachau concentration camp. You never said a word.

I have said, and quite literally meant, throughout the years, that I would give up the rest of my life in a heartbeat if I could hug you one more time. It would be the easiest decision I’ve ever made. You are the greatest gift life has ever given me.

What I can do, here, now, is again set down the poem I wrote at age 15 no more than a day or two after your death.

***

In All Times

In all times and in all lives

There are moments

Filled with the sincerest intimacy

You and I have shared such moments

And I thank you and love you

For those times

***

Anyway, Dad, I miss you and love you my whole wide world.

Always your son loving you,

Peter