The President Is Just “Dad” to His Child   Leave a comment

My father has thousands of admirers and followers and a well established public persona through his writing and speaking and professional relationships, an image that has slowly coalesced over time through the collaboration of thousands of voices of readers and listeners, students and colleagues.  It is a fair enough rendition–dad had no secret fatal-flaw, no mistress or addiction or off-shore account, nothing for scum-mongers to dig up–but it lacks the depth and complexity, the humanness, that dissenting voices might bring.  We elevate heroes to inspire and guide us, but someone larger than life cannot be a realistic model for us frail humans.

A son (or daughter) is more poised than other voices to offer an honest rendition of someone’s life from a place of intimate and extended knowledge.  But the public and private records are not primarily competing for accuracy because they actually are records of very different things.  A child’s telling is an altogether different story of a public figure, as different as a tale of my truck Bernie versus the dealership’s glossy of the Ford F250.

Mine is not only a different story, but a unique perspective.  We are always the central figure in our life’s stories, so the account I give of my relationship with my dad says more about me than about him, but our stories are so closely intertwined that the more I understand him, the more I understand myself, both in ways that I am like him and ways that I am different.  Every year I discover important aspects of who I am and why, uncover tensions between conflicting values, recognize cracks in my foundation that have undermined my growth, and many of these insights come from reflecting on my childhood.  If this journey of reflection and discovery interests you, then hop on board.

Note of Clarification: My goal here is not eulogy but discovery, not praise but insight, so these posts may not be what you are looking for.  This is more the reflection of a son on his relationship with his father, and to that end, his public persona is a distraction from his role as an “everyman” father.  His admirers may be frustrated and disappointed by what they find here.


Posted August 10, 2015 by janathangrace in Personal

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