My book, "I'm OK--You're Not: The Message We're Sending Nonbelievers, and Why We Should Stop", is one of three finalists for a 2008 San Diego Book Award, in the category of Spirituality. (My book "Penguins, Pain and the Whole Shebang" won that award in 2006.)
If, on the evening of Saturday, May 17, I attend the SDBA awards ceremony/ schmooze-fest, my 80-year-old father will be with me. To me, this is like saying I'll be accompanied by Popeye, or that on that night I'll sprout wings and fly to the affair. It's that unimaginable. As it happens, my father will be visting me that weekend. My father hasn't stayed overnight in any town I've lived in since I moved out of our family home when I was 16 years old, which was 34 years ago. From then until I was 45, I don't think I saw him five times. I grew from a teenager to a middle-aged man without him.
I became a Christian when I was thirty-eight. Then I wanted to be closer to him: Honor your father, and all like that. So I started writing to him. One day he wrote me back. Then I called him. Then I called him again. Then he invited my wife and me to come to his home for a week and visit with him and his wife, my stepmother. So we did. The following year, he invited us out again, and of course we went again. A lovely time, both times, was had by all.
In February of this year, my dad's wife of 40 years, my stepmother from way back when, succumbed to cancer, and passed away. (I wrote a little about that here.) Since that sadness, my father and I have grown considerably closer; I would say we have become good friends. My wife and I would like him to come live with or near us. It's for the purpose of exploring that possibility that he's coming out to stay with us the weekend of the San Diego Book Awards.
My dad -- who is straight from the 1950's school of Responsible Living -- thinks it's Beyond Bizzare that I'm a writer. To him it's like I make a living making balloon animals, or ... I don't know ... stacking rocks. (Wait. Writing is a lot like those two things....) He doesn't understand how I can possibly make a living doing something so nebulous and ... weird, basically.
And, of course, all I ever wanted my whole life was for the guy to take me seriously. Same as all sons want from their fathers.
I don't know if my father's going to be in the mood to go the San Diego Book Awards. I don't know if I will be. But we'll probably go. And if we do go, and I do win, I could see, once I'm back in my seat with him, having to take more time than I really should to stop smiling.