Sometimes I think I’m crazy. Sometimes I recognize that I’m a creative soul that hasn’t had the freedom or the nourishment to create. I believe I get this creative need from my dad. My dad had a sensitive heart, an eye for beauty, and the skills to create something from nothing. But he never had the support of a strong family. He didn’t have the inspiration of a thriving community. He never had the financial backing which allows us to relax and create. He had a completely dysfunctional family filled with abuse, anger, heartache, and disappointment. He had a lifetime of struggling to make ends meet and never quite having enough. He had vicious memories that haunted his dreams. Memories from Vietnam. Memories of things that can’t be unseen or unfelt. Memories he was ashamed of because they made him feel weak and angry. Anger that lingered for a generation and a country that betrayed him. A country that drafted him to “help” and then was disgusted that he did. A generation of “peace lovers” that ignored that he had no personal choice and then refused to acknowledge the sacrifice and the damage he sustained. So he tried to hide his hurt and his anger in alcohol and smoke. Self-medicating was a term he never knew, or at least never acknowledged but was evident in his daily habits. Folgers – Camels – Falstaff. The three words that sustained him in life. Three brands that betray my age! He could have made better choices. He certainly should have made better choices. But one thing that was not destroyed was his ability to create and produce beautiful things through his upholstery. It’s ironic that the family that needed to just make a living was known locally for it’s talent in the upholstery trade. Especially my dad. Antiques, modern designs, vehicles, or restaurant booths, he could, and did, do it all. He had an eye for design and the ability to restore things to beauty. I have to believe that his ability to see what needed to be replaced and what could just be shored up was cathartic to his soul. He didn’t talk about his memories unless he was very drunk. He pushed through his life making terrible choices that led to his early and excruciatingly painful death at just 59 years old. His lifestyle choices destroyed his body. Deep wounds, infection, and pain defined the last seven weeks of his life on Earth. During that time I saw a man who had been battered and abused his entire life, who had continued that cycle battering and abusing himself – and yes sometimes those around him. In society’s eye he was a failure, a man who never quite measured up. And really he didn’t. But I am blessed to have known his heart. I knew he was generous to a fault, loved children, desired to build others up. I knew his eye for beauty and his skill for creativity. I pray that he has found peace and purity that he never experienced in this life. And I hope that his creativity can grow and live on in me.