Handsome. Charismatic. Charming.
These are three of the words that I remember adults using to describe Edmund when I was young. As in, “Oh, your father is so talented and charming.” Or, “I always thought your father was one of the most handsome men I’d met.”
I recall accepting compliments directed toward Edmund’s appearance with an odd mixture of pride, and uncertainty. Proud that grown-ups found my father handsome, and uncertain as to what I was to do with that information.
Now, with the advantage of both time, and distance, I can take an objective look at Edmund, and declare, that, yes, he was indeed, a “very handsome man.”
Edmund was also adventurous. Not so much in the physical, mountain-climbing way, but in the “damn the torpedoes” attitude, the we-only-live-once kind of way.
He had suffered severely from polio when he was young, and one of his legs bore testament to that struggle, so his exploits were of necessity more intellectual, more existential, than physical.
Edmund was adventurous in his love life, and in his writing. So, too, he was wildly adventurous, some might say recklessly so, in his artistic endeavors.
I would place creating larger-than-life-size nude sculptures of his lovers, and exhibiting those sculptures at Laguna’s Sawdust Festival, on a par with sky-diving or mountain climbing, even if the consequences weren’t as potentially fatal. But, maybe that’s just me.
I would also place his experience with meeting a woman, entering into a contractual living arrangement with her, and writing a book about that arrangement up there with adventurous acts of vulnerability, like say, undressing in front of strangers. But again, maybe that’s just me.
Edmund was, perhaps above all else, smart. In some of my fondest memories of him, I see him tinkering, experimenting, creating. A chemist by education, he was an alchemist of sorts, and was light years ahead of others in his experimentation with fiber optics.
He was able to combine his curiosity, intellect, and command of writing to make even annual reports and user manuals at once authoritative–and entertaining.
And, he was a storyteller with an encyclopedic command of current events. Wherever Edmund was, there was sure to be a world map nearby.
And so it is
Twenty years’ of Father’s Days have passed since Edmund died. Twenty years since I last had the opportunity to send him a card, to call him, to tell him that I love him.
To be sure, we had our rough patches. Our very rough patches. I’d like to think, though, that I never missed a Father’s Day opportunity to thank him for being my father.
Just in case I did miss a year or two, I’m taking this opportunity to express that gratitude, to thank him for the many gifts and talents he gave me. Thank you, Edmund, from the bottom of my heart.