Birch Tree by Kevin Weidemann

As I grow slowly toward becoming a father, I feel stems of longing and memory stretch back into time, into a painting from the biological father I never knew. It’s just an image of a birch tree, a barn and some blue sky.

He created that image— it somehow inspired him enough to invest some time into applying brush to canvas. And here it sits before me, and I share the longing and yearning for its peaceful serenity just as he might have.    

Though I never knew but foggy, childhood memories of him, he’s been demonized all my life. He’s been the person I’ve been afraid of becoming—the person that did bad things—cheated, stole, and lied. And all the while I was told I inherited two things from him—his creativity and his temper.

Well, I’ve painted and I’ve slammed doors, but I’ve also cheated, stole and lied. But it took me a long time to realize that his evil— the same demon inside me— isn’t always a liar and cheater.   

There is a warmness in his heart— in his family. In my family. There’s a rational explanation for all the badness surrounding him and those influenced by him, and there’s beauty. Simple beauty.    

We’re connecting through some spirit, linking through the grasses of that old farm. No answers, really, to who he was and why he did what he did. But there’s a union that’s been painted, a common thread of color and canvas that has satisfied some connection.   

And because of it, I see myself leaving those landmarks for my child, even though I will be so much more apart of my child’s life. I will leave touchstones of abstract clarity— longings and passions to help my child understand spirit and wonder.    

Although I appreciate everything my mother and step dad gave to me in my life, there’s something so universally magical about this painting. He left it for me, I know, as unaware as he might have been about it, it’s for me.    

Thanks, Michael. Thank you for leaving something out there for me to find. I hope I can return the favor to your spirit some day.

Sunday, October 10, 2004 12:59:11AM

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