Wound & Harbor*

Luke 12:13-21  – The 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time – for Sunday, August 4, 2013

“For one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

My wife asked, “Where’d you get those scratches?” She fingered a nick on my elbow and pointed to a curved red slash on my leg.

“I got it from the dog when we were playing a couple of hours ago.”

Our dog Hannah has raggedy claws and can be energetic. Three cats own us and one, Moses, treats my flesh like a pincushion. While biking, an errant branch might slap my cheek. I cook with sharp objects and boiling liquids. However, sometimes I’m clueless about what caused an “owie.” And while some wounds are easily seen, others are invisible.

jaws_shaw_dreyfussIn 1975’s Jaws, I enjoyed the scene** where Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw’s characters compared scars. As they one-upped each other with horrific tales of danger from knives and fangs and worse, they and the viewer grew closer. Wounds are stories.

A few years ago I attempted to heal an unseen wound. I tried to manipulate my father into telling me that he loved me. It didn’t work. I understand . . . and yet not.

Dad had dementia in the final years of his life. When ninety-four, we placed him into a memory care facility not too far from where Mom lived. I tried to visit on a monthly basis. Each visit to the facility was brief and typically with my mother. We’d eat with Dad and usually tidy his room. Until the last year of his life, I could nudge fractured stories from him about his service during World War II. A question about cars likely brought a reaction:  he’d recall the used Chrysler Imperial from the 1950s with the miniature turntable in the dashboard or the new Cadillac Seville he didn’t like and sold soon after the purchase. Mom once calculated Dad had owned forty cars by their fortieth wedding anniversary. Yes indeed, cars could always prompt a few words from my father.

On one particular visit, he seemed in a good mood. Just as we were leaving, I reached out my hand. He grasped it.

“Good to see you Dad.”

Silence. Seconds passed. Then he softly replied, “Good to see you.” Had he mimicked me? Did he know what he was saying?

And then I manipulated him. I told him, gazing at his mostly blank face, “I love you Dad.” Continue reading →