The Dad Saga: 8 October 2006

This morning, Thom, the younger of my two sons, climbed in a car with several friends from the University of Oregon and headed back to Eugene. The group came down for the weekend to see the Ducks (ranked 11th nationally by gridiron pundits)) take on the Golden Bears of the University of California (No. 16, pundits opined). On Friday, the Oregon visitors, who included more than one Berkeley native, went to see the A’s in the American League baseball playoffs. If you follow that kind of thing, you know the results already; I’ll just say Thom and his friends got a split for the weekend.

As I said, this morning just after 10 they hit the road back north. The road trip, the quick weekend visit, the expeditious return to business back at school–it all felt like a new chapter in our lives as parents. The kid doesn’t need us for field trips any more.

Then later, I went over to visit my older son, Eamon, for a slightly early birthday dinner at the Beach Chalet on the Great Highway in San Francisco. It was a warm, clear day, the kind you feel almost entitled to here after the damp, gray late summer and the rains to come. But when I got to the city this afternoon, I could see the fog was hanging right on the sea edge of the peninsula. But slowly, it did something you almost never see a fog bank do late in the day: It backed up over the water and receded. We got a table looking out on the highway and the beach and had a slow dinner as the sun set and the night came on. Afterward, we went out and walked up to the Cliff House, which has gotten spruced up a little after years and years as a funky tourist dump. Then we turned around and walked back down the walk above Ocean Beach with the moon rising and fires flickering far off down the strand.

(The fires led us to a conversation on the origin of the word “bonfire.” Eamon, if you’re reading, here’s what the Oxford English Dictionary says about the origins:

“[f. BONE n. 1 + FIRE = fire of bones. The etymological spelling bone-fire, Scottish bane-fire, was common down to 1760, though bonfire was also in use from the 16th c., and became more common as the original sense was forgotten. Johnson in 1755 decided for bonfire, ‘from bon good, (Fr.) and fire’. But the shortening of the vowel was natural, from its position; cf. knowledge, Monday, collier, etc. In Scotland with the form bane-fire, the memory of the original sense was retained longer; for the annual midsummer ‘banefire’ or ‘bonfire’ in the burgh of Hawick, old bones were regularly collected and stored up, down to c. 1800.]”

Try the temporary link to the full definition.)

Anything else about today or tonight? Maybe this: After 27 years as a father, I think I’m getting the hang of it.

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8 Replies to “The Dad Saga: 8 October 2006”

  1. We had a really good time lasst night. I looked up the etymology of bonfire as well but I have to say the source I looked at didn’t have quite as much detail as the Oxford does. Anyway, after 27 years of being a son I think maybe I’m starting to get the hang of it too.

  2. Happy Birthday Eamon. It’s the tenth here in NZ. Sounds as though you all had a good time down by the ocean. That is a very nice area.

  3. Happy Birthday Eamon. That certainly was a rapid 27 years. I remember when I first met you. I not sure if you could walk or not, But, I do know I hoisted you up to my shoulders, and paraded you proudly, my first Granddchild, up and down Oakhill drive for the world to behold. Again, Happy Birthday. Love, der Alte

  4. geez! A day late and a dollar short. Eamon Happy Birthday, hope to see you sometime soon. Much love, Chris, Patty, Max, Madeline, and Liam.
    PS. Pops is right, you couldn’t walk yet, the rest is right on, and I still have the pictures to prove it.

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