Dad,


You've changed my life.

You were part of the catalyst of my metamorphosis into manhood.


I wrote this story for you, because I love you, and will always love you, come what may.

Here it is:


I remember in my childhood skipping around the neighborhood in the deep blue and grey puddles that were filled with the sky. Some one had tossed and sprinkled water beads on the grass and silver was on the street.  All the wetness and water brought out the deeper colors of everything. I always muse at the depth of the rain. It brings out the souls of everything, which dance like I do in each rippled puddle and gurgling gutter. I think that's part of what makes rain so fresh, such a relief for the soul.

But the thing that always stood out to me was all the earthworms that crawled out. They were not grey, or green, blue or silver, but they were pink like me; like my skin. Maybe it was the color, maybe it was how helpless they looked many of the times. All I know is I had some inclination to pick the poor fellows off the sidewalk and street and out of the gutter and fling them back into the lawn for a grassy, soft landing. Then they, after having come out with all the souls of everything, and having refreshed themselves by bathing in the sweet dew from heaven; after having been flung onto the lawn, then they will crawl back into the dark black soil and continue their labor and work; enriching the earth after having been enriched by the rain.

Then, on a different day, when the sun was shining and all the colors were harder and brighter, dustier and dryer, I was walking around the corner again. I was kicking a pinecone along like a soccer ball on the way to my friend's house. It was spring break and I wanted to say goodbye to my friend before dad and I left on our trip. No one answered the door so I blew at my bangs and then flopped on the grass and waited for him by watching the clouds.

It hadn't been long when I saw a bird fly over me. I lifted myself onto my elbows and scratched the back of my grass-itchy head as I watched the bird land on the sidewalk. It was shaking it's head and looked like it was—

"Hey," I yelled at the bird. It was eating a caterpillar. "Hey, leave him alone," I yelled as I got up and ran over to the bird waving my arms in wide circles.

The bird promptly flew away and left the poor insect on the ground. I knelt down over the caterpillar. It was on it's back wiggling and trying to get on it's legs again.

"It's alright, I saved your life. Here," I said as I picked it up.

It crawled around on my skin and it tickled. I laughed. "Don't worry. I'll take care of you." He was green with yellow stripes and black and white spots. I should show dad, I said to myself as I ran home.

When I got home I saw my dad in the driveway packing the car. The fishing poles were on the top of the car and he was bent over with his head deep in the trunk.

"Dad, dad I saved this caterpillar's life. See?" I held it out for him to see.

"How did you save his life?" he asked with his head still in the car.

I got up next to the bumper and reached my hand into the trunk so my dad could see. "See?"

He bent his neck enough to see what was in my hand. "Wow, that's a big one."

"Yeah."

"Can you put it down and go the bathroom? We're both packed and we need to get going."

"I'm going to bring him with us."

Dad pulled his head out of the trunk. "If you bring him with us he'll die. It's best if you put him in the garden in the backyard."

I looked up at my dad and my throat got tight. I kept my mouth closed and started breathing a lot through my nose. I didn't want to let him go. Then I looked down at my hand at the caterpillar crawling around in my hand and tickling my palm. My eyes got bigger and it felt like my cheeks were tugging down at the corners. I stopped breathing altogether and my eyes became blurry and watery. I did my best not to cry and my best to say to my dad... "But... but I saved his life."

My dad popped down on his knees so he could look closer in my eyes. "And if you let him go you'll save his life again." He gave me one of those deep stares. His eyes looked like the puddles I had splashed in last week.

This time I did cry. I really wanted to take him with me. I saved him. I saved him from the bird. And he tickles my hand. And what if the bird comes back? "But what if the bird comes back?"

"Let's find a good place to put him in the garden where the birds can't get him."

Dad stood up and took my empty hand and we walked around the house into the backyard. I looked at the caterpillar in my hand and knew that dad was right. What my caterpillar needed most was a green garden, not a long, bumpy car-ride in a cup. I wanted him in the car with me, but caterpillars aren't made for cars. They need gardens.

When we got to the garden I walked to the pea poles. Dad had arranged the poles so they made a teepee. I crawled inside the pea tent and my dad watched me. I put the caterpillar on a leaf and watched him munch on the greens.

"Alright son, let's go."

As I crawled out I took one last look. I hope he's still here when I get back. I wanted to feel him tickle my hand one more time. 


So , this is my story to you. I will tell you that this is a story that I wrote from your perspective. I don't know if I related it well. At least it's my perspective of your perspective. It helps me understand you by pretending to be you. In the least I love you and am grateful for you.

We know how the story ends. They boy came home and the caterpillar was gone. For years he thought about it everyday. He prayed for it. Then one day he realized it had always been there, but it was in a chrysalis.

How I see it you were the catalyst of my metamorphosis. Between you and Kylie I became a man. I couldn't have done it without you.

I haven't told you of the evil, depressive spirit that suppressed me for years. It came to a head when I married Kylie and met you. When I say it came to a head I mean that you and Kylie brought it to the surface and loved me no matter what.

I remember squirming in bed feeling punched and torn in my mind. Depression felt more like fire than anything. But it was the love that Kylie and you had for me that saved me. You and Kylie were my shield against the mighty dragon.

And my sword? Christ; Christ and his blood were my sword. I couldn't have done it without my three best friends in the whole world.

I want you to know that you rank highly in my emotional arsenal.

Thank you for your love.

I will love you and talk to you forevermore.

Thanks dad.

Love,

your son

Zach.


p.s. it took me a while to write this story. I thought you might enjoy reading some of my preliminary ideas.

Here they are:


I had been watching the chrysalis for weeks. Each morning when I went out to the farm to work I walked past the small tree that it hung on. In the morning hanging in the spring green tree there it hung. I remember one morning I saw the dew drip off and drop on the already beaded hued grass.

While I hoed and hiked about the field I thought about the caterpillar. Although I never saw all the leaves it ate I felt a deep appreciation for it. I loved seeing it on my walks to the field and back again. Each day I saw it grow


On the last day of April I remember walking on my way to work in the potato field. I saw the butterfly struggling to get out and the butterfly called me over and asked for some help.


(second attempt)


One day late in the winter I was eating an apple. The apple is what this story is all about. I wouldn't want you to think of the story being about me so pay close attention to the apple and you will see.

I walked down a frozen path. The snowflakes were small, almost as if winter had decided to let out a few deep breaths and the moisture that left its lungs sent snowflakes to powder about the trees and my shoulders. There on my path was a red apple. I was actually on my way home for lunch and thought it to be a gift from heaven. I picked it up and took a bite. It was still warm like summer and sweet like spring. It was a beautiful flavor that made my heart trip forward a beat, hinting that it wanted to run with joy. My mind was widened, broadened and opened. A warm flow of blood returned to my hands and cheeks like a blanket that had been next to the fireplace.

As I got to the core of the apple I saw one of the seeds. It was small and black. It looked like it was the eye of a small anything that looked helplessly at me. I laughed when I saw it, as if it was a child peeking at me out from behind a corner. And as if to come around the corner and lift and toss the child in my arms like a father I dug that seed out of the corner of the apple flesh and examined the seed in between my fingers. My white skin contrasted the dark seed.

I looked at the seed closer and then looked back at the core. I held the seed up to the sunlight and then compared the other seeds in the apple core. A sooty grey crow collapsed on the apple core and sprung into the air. I yelled at the bird and waved my apple-less hand, but it was already lost past the pines and trees. My forlorned hand dropped and I looked at the one seed that I hand in my hand. A certain sadness overcame me at losing the apple. All I had left was this small black seed. The only memory of my happy little sweetness. 

As I was sorrowed at the loss of my sweetest memory an old man scratching his head and wobbling from one side of the path to the other. He chuckled and mumbled as he shuffled about. He seemed to be looking for something.

As I continued to walk down the path I said hello to him.

"Oh, young man. Have you happen to have seen an apple on this path? I need seven apples to make a medicine for my dying wife and I lost an apple."

"I had it," I said, "but I lost it as well. A crow came—"

"You've lost it!? Oh, all is lost."

"Perhaps, sir I could buy you—"

"You do not understand these apples are not from the market. These apples came from that mountain," he said lifting his cane and pointing it at the mountain in the distance.

"Sir—" I started to say, but he interrupted me once more.

"You're hiding something, aren't you?"

I was not about to give him the seed. "I'm on my way home. I'm sorry you lost your apple," I said and then I pushed past him.