Anderson Cooper made his first appearance on Oprah shortly after his new book was released. On that day, this vetern newsman did not look comfortable. Yet, I could hardly take my eyes off the television screen.
In May, I was in Austin at a seminar and managed to slip away to work out at Town Lake YMCA. In the cardio-room, I rode a stationary bike. On the wall, were three televisions, each one set to a different station. The sound had been turned off but the close captioning was on. I followed his words closely.
For the first time, Cooper was talking publicly about the death of his father and the suicide of his brother. His mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, was in the studio audience. Oprah asked both Cooper and his mother questions. He relayed the details of the deaths of his dad and brother. For some reason, I was riveted to this exchange.
During May and June, I purchased three books to read during July (when I would be away on vacation and study break). I did not realize until this afternoon that each one of those books had to do with fathers. The books I purchased?
- Dispatches From the Edge by Anderson Cooper.
- Wisdom of Our Fathers (Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons) by Tim Russert.
- To Own a Dragon by Donald Miller.
I did not intentionally set out to purchase three books that would deal with fathers (Cooper’s book deals with this far less than the other two). Earlier this month, I read the Miller and Russert books. Still, it was not until this afternoon that I realized the link between all three books. I am not sure why I purchased books with this theme. I do think it is interesting.
For now, let me quote from Cooper’s book regarding his father:
I didn’t know it was going to happen. I guess kids never do. I was ten. My father was fifty. That seemed old at the time; now its frighteningly young. My father died on an operating table at New York Hospital while undergoing heart bypass surgery. January 5, 1978. That was the date. I still mark it on my calendar every year. I should celebrate his birthday, of course, gather together friends who knew him, tell stories, keep his memory alive. Twenty-seven years later, it’s still too painful even to try. Too raw. The nerves are still exposed. For years I tried to swaddle the pain, encase the feelings. I boxed them up along with my father’s papers, stored them away, promising one day to sort them all out. All I managed to do was deaden myself to them, detach myself from life…
…The day my father died, my life restarted. The person who I was disappeared, washed away by the turn of the tide…
Wow…How many people can identify with these feelings?
I will say more later. For now, let me tell you that reading these three books has given me a renewed appreciation for what I am to be about as a dad.