Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Father and Son Boxes









A box is a box is a box, Gertrude Stein kind of said. Or Pu-Tai. But a smiling box, well, that’s something else.

Being a son is sitting inside a box just as being a father is. (I imagine the mother-daughter relationship has similar boxes.)

There’s a Father box for how men are expected to act in relation to their sons, basically the law-giver box. You do what I say!

There’s a Son box for how boys are expected to respond, basically the blind-obedience box. Is there anything more I can do for you, father?  Un, huh.

The Father box is forever duct taped to the Son box, but the personalities of fathers and sons seldom fit comfortably inside. Hence the rub.

They don’t fit because of egos and liking to do things other than playing the roles of Know-everything and Know-nothing.

When the son begins questioning the father, emotions can erupt. This is the start of wisdom. For both of them.

There are also boxes set out by society for people to sit in. Society loves boxes because they control people and stop them from erupting spontaneously.

Think outside the parameters of your environment. Care for people across cardboard boundaries, my mother would say.

If you’re trying to be an ideal father or son, don’t. That’s boring. People want someone with feelings, dreams and disappointments, someone who listens and likes to dance.

To not be boring, we have to step out of our box and take risks. Like jogging in funny clothes, or climbing a mountain.

Americans want their men in the rugged individualist box. When fathers get really old, they want their sons to take care of them, but they resent the help because they want to ride their own horse into the sunset. It’s a confusing time for sons.

When fathers are in assisted-living, they’re in a box they don’t like, even if they’ve chosen it. Who would?

When fathers or sons are dying, males should step out of their boxes and talk to each other without walls between them. Feelings should be included.

There is a Grief box that men don’t know how to get out of. Unless other people step in and offer a hand.

The two biggest boxes are Life and Death, and those are all the boxes there should be. Well, also Love, because without Love, Life is like Death. 

Love is a box without walls or limitations.