Dad Surprised Me

It was after Mom died, and before Dad died, that I was riding in the car with Dad, where to now I cannot remember.  But we were going over some old philosophical ground, I think, chatting a bit about the importance of reason and logic in our lives, in his life as an electrical engineer, in my life as a philosopher.  Of course we loved logic and reason—this was part of our great European heritage.  We agreed that it seemed to be a perfectly Germanic preoccupation to be entranced by the virtues of organization, structure, order.

But I went on to say that it seemed to me that Polish people weren’t all that much different, that they too seemed to have a special gift for logic and order as among life’s higher values.  And here Dad really surprised me.  With more enthusiasm than I remembered about him in a long time, he robustly said, “Poles are LOVERS!”  And we both laughed.  I was really glad to hear him say this.  I really wish he had done this a whole lot more.  Maybe we were both finally in a place where it was okay to present the idea of love in all its connotations (eros as well as agape).

We didn’t tease any more out of this particular moment, but a more significant moment I cannot find.  It signaled to me what I suspected about my Dad and my Mom all my life, that at bottom, they were both sensual, sexual beings, where the physical was only the beginning of love’s power in their lives, in their family’s life.  Maybe the Church (that is, their beliefs about their Church) didn’t let them talk about this in any way that would be both good and holy, so they let their actions speak instead of words.  Until, of course, Dad surprised me.

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