"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

He was not the best father, a father's lament

Dad, Jerry and I,  Manzano Mountains, 1950s
But he was the only one I had.
 Neither am I, but I have tried.
Terrence Miller Clark, 1914-1973.
I've written about him a lot, the talented artist with a wooden leg, coming up out of the dirt poor Oklahoma Depression and red clay town of Comanche, Oklahoma, the oldest of five boys, all of whom fled that town to become successes. 
He could draw before he could walk, I think, and I have so many questions I'd like answered. You never asked as a child, and if it weren't for stories from my now late Uncle Mike, I'd know a lot less.
I want to know more about hopping the freight train that cost him his leg in Tucumcari in 1933. I want to know more about his playing football. I want to know more about his art. I want to study art with him. I want to know what his favorite drink was. I want stories of his teen years and 20s. Alas.
He was incredibly talented as an artist, but he had many flaws...an awful temper, an overbearing selfishness, a wandering eye...and more.
Easter Sunday, Albuquerque
I spent a good portion of my life trying not to follow in those steps, but I too have many flaws and failures, but I've really tried to be a good father, providing for my children, being respectable, being loving. I think he had more excuses, or reasons, for his shortcomings than I do mine, but as I get older the genes and art have kicked in and I know I treasure his influence, his life. He had hard-won guts, even speaking out loudly in church in one Sunday sermon, telling a preacher, "You're wrong."
I see so many posts this weekend from wonderful people saluting their fathers, as the best fathers ever. I am touched, and envious, and guilty, I guess. 
Keep posting those photos, keep mentioning those memories. Keep telling your fathers how great they are, regardless of flaws. You are so fortunate. My wife, with parents in their '80's, says it's hard to believe my parents have been so long gone.
I am not the best father...but I am so thankful my children and grandchildren still love me. All these years later, I'm in his debt, even with his many flaws.
My brother Jerry has commented that I should attempt a family history. That stumps me in many ways, but as I looked back at the previous posts on our father on this blog, maybe I've started.
Consider these articles:

My dad had a wooden leg 
Fathers' Day in black and white 
Fathers' day musings 
Pages from beyond death 
Pages from the past 
Ghosts from the past 
A spooky view of the past 
When iris bloom 
Forbidden art from long ago 
Of time and mortality 
Sitting still, portraits in time 
100 years ago and more 


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