Sunday, June 17, 2018

Watching My Fathers

Photo by Ellie Caputo
At Sina's Back Roads
in Sutter Creek, CA
Happy Father's Day! I want to give tribute to all fathers out there, but most especially, my own father, Charles Henry Starks. I feel blessed to have the best dad in the world, and I know there are many who feel the same about their own fathers.

However, today I also think about those who don't even know their fathers...or have met them, and they might not have had the best example of fatherhood in their lives. I can only hope and pray that they have had good men in their lives who have set examples of love, hope, strength and courage. To them, there is a quote by Pastor T.D. Jakes that reads: "I want to congratulate all the men out there who are working diligently to be good fathers, whether they are stepfathers, or biological fathers or just spiritual fathers." And I congratulate you, too.

I was adopted into my family when I was an infant of just a couple of months. The youngest of three, my sister, Kim, is ten years older than me; my brother, Mike, one year older. Our father was born in the Depression Era, in 1936, and was raised as a farm boy out on the high plains of Wyoming, near Pavillion. Hard work is something he has always known, and he passed down his wisdom to us. I know he "says" he's retired, but...I see him out and about, always working on the grounds, the gardens...out traveling across the country. It's in his blood. Don't let him fool you...he might be pushing 82, but he's a kid at heart!

I have met my biological father, Jim Richards. He was in my life for a fleeting moment of years, then some family drama had ensued, and I haven't seen him in well over a decade (absolutely no fault of his own). When I first met him, I was about 30 years old, and I have to say, a lot of my life questions were answered. Like, where did my artistic/musical abilities come from? Jim is a guitar player and songwriter...mainly blues. A veteran of Vietnam, in the Army and the Marines. Not just a solider, a survivor. Found out that his brothers (my uncles) are instrumental in my genetics as well: Ben is an accomplished writer; Bill is a classical guitarist who debuted in Carnegie Hall. His sister (my aunt) Rosie was a ballerina in L.A. and Paris. My grandfather, Eugene (Gene) Richards, was the Director of Physical Therapy at Cedars-Sinai for many years. From what I gathered (from my grandmother), the Richards family line goes back to King Richard the III (the good one, lol).

Ah, so there it is! If there's something to be said about the men in our lives, it would be that as human beings, we are all flawed in some way...have made mistakes, maybe some of them significant. However, history lessons are key, and I will always remember what my mother always said: "Do it better than we did." It was her hope that we would, and that we would find happiness. I can only hope that I can be the kind of person my parents raised and hoped me to be. It's not an easy task, as I am only human and make mistakes as well. But I gotta say, I'm a perfect example of how people can and do change when given the chance.

I wrote this tribute to my father about 7 years ago. I hope you enjoy it, as I enjoy reminiscing and sharing it with you.

Happy Father's Day! 

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