I was a young teenager when I made my first sculpture, if you could call it that! For fun I took a sculpture class. It was definitely not because I had any talent in the arts. I did not then. I do not now (except in the Spoken Word society!). It was supposed to be a round head of an octopus minus the eight legs. The face was decorated with colorful strips of paint. The eyes were crooked.
Some of the kids in the class made mugs or bowls, but I really wanted an octopus. An art show followed of which I not only did not win, but I did not even get a participatory ribbon! It was okay. I don’t remember feeling left out because I loved it, and isn’t that what art is all about?
I carried it home at the end of the school year wrapped in newspaper and placed in my satchel. I hid it under my bed along with the leftover Halloween candy, and long lost report cards. (“I don’t know where it went,” I told my parents, ”my report card is just gone?!” Nice try, right?
On Father’s Day morning I rewrapped my octopus in the funny papers and gave it to my dad. This was the best present ever. I was tired of buying shaving mugs and coffee cups, and this was homemade. I wish I could have had a camera to take his photo to capture his reaction. But no cameras were available to me. I just have to rely on my memory. I think it was priceless, as was the octopus. He turned it over to make sure I had signed it, which, of course, I did.
He took that octopus to work where it sat on his desk as long as I can remember. Upon his death, my mom either gave it to the Goodwill or somewhere else I don’t want to think about, but both are now gone.
My father was my hero. He always celebrated the work I do, never questioning my choice of living styles (yes, I lived in a barn for a long time), and on a sea coast and many other places. He never thought I should get a job that made a lot of money. And he was always curious about my life asking me lots of questions.
My father taught me to ride a bike, write a story, watch sunsets. My father taught me that wherever I go, I take myself with me. That bit of advice has stuck with me all my life. No, he never taught me to hammer a nail, or change the oil, or even paint a wall. But those sunsets. Once in Texas he drove us all out to the edges of Houston to watch the sunset.
“Look as hard as you can,” he said, “don’t miss those sunsets.” Out on the farm and the sea coast he did the same thing. “As long as you can see those sunsets, all is well.”
Two of my sons are fathers. I applaud them for their love, their strength, their courage to be fathers. I love watching them watch their children with such love in their eyes.
This weekend we celebrate Father’s Day. We also will celebrate the full strawberry June moon on Monday, June 17 and the solstice on Friday. I can’t think of anything more fun than sitting out at the campfire with my sons and their sons (and daughters) to celebrate the turning of the earth and time with each other. My sons have also requested a homemade pie, just as when they were kids. I plan to make my famous rhubarb-strawberry pie for them.
Not only do we celebrate Father’s Day this weekend, but we celebrate the first installation of sculptures on the square in Angola. And I can guarantee you this is far more wonderful than my first and only attempt! This is a marvelous accomplishment by our Mayor Dick Hickman and his team! Town will be buzzing today as the sculptures are unveiled at 4 p.m. and then a reception at the T. Furth Center. I also have it on good authority that a new band in town, “The Genuine Pretenders,” will be performing at 6:30 p.m. I know I will be out and about enjoying this weekend!
I will also sit outside at my own campfire and remember those words from my dad, “As long as you can see the sunsets, all is well.”
LOU ANN HOMAN-SAYLOR lives in Angola at the White Picket Gardens where you can find her gardening or writing late into the night under the light of her frayed scarlet lamp. She is a storyteller, teacher, writer, actress and a collector of front porch stories. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.