Ilene and I had a nice talk this afternoon. As some of you might know, we were married for thirty years, but had started living separate lives about 10 years ago. I worked PMs, she worked days. We centered our separate lives around the kids and actually achieved a very strong and loving family life. (Al and Tipper, I think I get it.)
The burden of my not having exorcised my father's demons in the first twenty years of our lives together proved too much and Ilene needed to make a break. In retrospect, I did too. Yet, through the entire counseling process, each of us kept acknowledging that there was still some sense of commitment that remained. Something that happened on August 14, 1976 still shapes our lives today and its more than just the kids. That commitment has blossomed and we have a deep and abiding friendship that is continually expressed in our shared love for our family and a constant care and commitment to each other. We needed to get divorced... but we needed to remain friends even more.
About that conversation we had. Ilene related that in therapy she is working on reclaiming the love that her father did have for her. Ilene's father is one of the only people that I knew whom I would not want in my house. He was totally self centered and a Neo-Nazi. He had defrauded the Illinois' Disability Programs (something a Rehab Nurse finds particularly distasteful) while blaming the "niggers" for "their" welfare fraud. He spent time in jail after a felony conviction for attempting to hire someone to kill a former or soon to be former wife. He was a screwed up man, plain and simple. Fucked up.
Ilene and I didn't talk for too long about her thoughts, other than to state that there is so much involved in figuring out how imperfect people love. Denton Neisler was a particularly imperfect person, but each and every father drawing breath on this day is also imperfect. Kurt Kopanke was a particularly imperfect person, but each and every father drawing breath on this day is also imperfect. Daniel J. Kopanke is a particularly imperfect person, but I must remember that each and every father drawing breath on this day is also imperfect.
Danny, when you become a father, if you do, you will be imperfect. But you will be a better father than I was. I have learned from my father's life (Notice, I didn't say his mistakes, although that is a part of it). I pray that you will learn from my life. If you are never a father, I pray that you will treat all those around you with a gentle and peaceful love, knowing that I love you always.
(Inside Kopanke family joke: D A D, D A D: spelled forwards the same as backwards.)
I have had BBQ for Father's Day for as long as I can remember. Dad loved soup, so today I'll have soup. Here's a recipe I just made up today after reading about seven or eight other recipes. I think Dad would have loved it.
1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves torn into large pieces
1 1/2 quarts chicken or beef soup stock
6 slices bacon
2 small onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, passed through Garlic Press
1 pound or slightly less mild pork sausage links, browned and cut up into bite size pieces
2 medium white potatoes, peeled, halved, then sliced about 1/8th inch thick
Salt and pepper to taste (though not much!)