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老爸

2006-06-03 10:48

  The first memory I have of him — of anything, really — is his strength. It was in the late afternoon in a house under construction near ours. The unfinished wood floor had large, terrifying holes whose yawning[张大嘴] darkness I knew led to nowhere good. His powerful hands, then age 33, wrapped all the way around my tiny arms, then age 4, and easily swung[摇摆] me up to his shoulders to command all I surveyed.

  我对他——实际上是对所有事的最初记忆,就是他的力量。那是一个下午的晚些时候,在一所靠近我家的正在修建的房子里,尚未完工的木地板上有一个个巨大可怕的洞,那些张着大口的黑洞在我看来是通向不祥之处的。时年33岁的爸爸用那强壮有力的双手一把握住我的小胳膊,当时我才4岁,然后轻而易举地把我甩上他的肩头,让我把一切都尽收眼底。

  The relationship between a son and his father changes over time. It may grow and flourish[繁茂] in mutual maturity[成熟]. It may sour in resented dependence or independence. With many children living in single-parent homes today, it may not even exist.

  父子间的关系是随着岁月的流逝而变化的,它会在彼此成熟的过程中成长兴盛,也会在令人不快的依赖或独立的关系中产生不和。而今许多孩子生活在单亲家庭中,这种关系可能根本不存在。

  But to a little boy right after World War II ,a father seemed a god with strange strengths and uncanny[离奇的] powers enabling him to do and know things that no mortal could do or know. Amazing things, like putting a bicycle chain back on, just like that. Or building a hamster[仓鼠] cage.Or guiding a jigsaw[拼板玩具] so it forms the letter F;I learned the alphabet[字母表] that way in those pre-television days.

  然而,对于一个生活在二战刚刚结束时期的小男孩来说,父亲就像神,他拥有神奇的力量和神秘的能力,他无所不能,无所不知。那些奇妙的事儿有上自行车链条,或是建一个仓鼠笼子,或是教我玩拼图玩具,拼出个字母“F”来。在那个电视机还未诞生的年代,我便是通过这种方法学会了字母表的。

  There were, of course, rules to learn. First came the handshake. None of those fishy[冷冰冰的] little finger grips, but a good firm squeeze accompanied by an equally strong gaze into the other's eyes. “ The first thing anyone knows about you is your handshake,” he would say. And we'd practice it each night on his return from work, the serious toddler in the battered[用旧了的] Cleveland Indian's cap running up to the giant father to shake hands again and again until it was firm enough.

  当然,还得学些做人的道理。首先是握手。这可不是指那种冷冰冰的手指相握,而是一种非常坚定有力的紧握,同时同样坚定有力地注视对方的眼睛。老爸常说:“人们认识你首先是通过同你握手。”每晚他下班回家时,我们便练习握手。年幼的我,戴着顶破克利夫兰印第安帽,一本正经地跌跌撞撞地跑向巨人般的父亲,开始我们的握手。一次又一次,直到握得坚定,有力。

  As time passed, there were other rules to learn. “Always do your best.”“Do it now.”“Never lie!” And most importantly,“You can do whatever you have to do.” By my teens, he wasn't telling me what to do anymore, which was scary[令人害怕的] and heady[使人兴奋的] at the same time. He provided perspective, not telling me what was around the great corner of life but letting me know there was a lot more than just today and the next, which I hadn't thought of.

  随着时间的流逝,还有许多其他的道理要学。比如:“始终尽力而为”,“从现在做起”,“永不撒谎”,以及最重要的一条:“凡是你必须做的事你都能做到”。当我十几岁时,老爸不再叫我做这做那,这既令人害怕又令人兴奋。他教给我判断事物的方法。他不是告诉我,在人生的重大转折点上将发生些什么,而是让我明白,除了今天和明天,还有很长的路要走,这一点我是从未考虑过的。

  One day, I realize now, there was a change. I wasn't trying to please him so much as I was trying to impress him. I never asked him to come to my football games. He had a high-pressure career, and it meant driving through most of Friday night. But for all the big games, when I looked over at the sideline, there was that familiar fedora. And by God, did the opposing team captain ever get a firm handshake and a gaze he would remember.

  有一天,事情发生了变化,这是我现在才意识到的。我不再那么迫切地想要取悦于老爸,而是迫切地想要给他留下深刻的印象。我从未请他来看我的橄榄球赛。他工作压力很大,这意味着每个礼拜五要拼命干大半夜。但每次大型比赛,当我抬头环视看台时,那顶熟悉的软呢帽总在那儿。并且感谢上帝,对方队长总能得到一次让他铭记于心的握手——坚定而有力,伴以同样坚定的注视。

  Then, a school fact contradicted something he said. Impossible that he could be wrong, but there it was in the book. These accumulated over time, along with personal experiences, to buttress my own developing sense of values. And I could tell we had each taken our own, perfectly normal paths.

  后来,在学校学到的一个事实否定了老爸说过的某些东西。他不可能会错的,可书上却是这样写的。诸如此类的事日积月累,加上我的个人阅历,支持了我逐渐成形的价值观。我可以这么说:我俩开始各走各的阳关道了。

  I began to see, too, his blind spots, his prejudices[偏见] and his weaknesses. I never threw these up at him. He hadn't to me, and, anyway, he seemed to need protection. I stopped asking his advice; the experiences he drew from no longer seemed relevant to the decisions I had to make.

  与此同时,我还开始发现他对某些事的无知,他的偏见,他的弱点。我从未在他面前提起这些,他也从未在我面前说起,而且,不管怎么说,他看起来需要保护了。我不再向他征求意见;他的那些经验也似乎同我要做出的决定不再相干。

  He volunteered advice for a while. But then, in more recent years, politics and issues gave way to talk of empty errands and, always, to ailments.

  老爸当了一段时间的“自愿顾问”,但后来,特别是近几年里,他谈话中的政治与国家大事让位给了空洞的使命与疾病。

  From his bed, he showed me the many sores and scars on his misshapen body and all the bottles for medicine. “ Sometimes,” he confided[倾诉], “ I would just like to lie down and go to sleep and not wake up.”

  躺在床上,他给我看他那被岁月扭曲了的躯体上的疤痕,以及他所有的药瓶儿。他倾诉着:“有时我真想躺下睡一觉,永远不再醒来。”

  After much thought and practice (“ You can do whatever you have to do.” ), one night last winter, I sat down by his bed and remembered for an instant those terrifying dark holes in another house 35 years before. I told my fatherhow much I loved him. I described all the things people were doing for him. But, I said, he kept eating poorly, hiding in his room and violating the doctor's orders. No amount of love could make someone else care about life, I said; it was a two-way street. He wasn't doing his best. The decision was his.

  通过深思熟虑与亲身体验(“凡是你必须做的事你都能做到”),去年冬天的一个夜晚,我坐在老爸床边,忽然想起35年前那另一栋房子里可怕的黑洞。我告诉老爸我有多爱他。我向他讲述了人们为他所做的一切。而我又说,他总是吃得太少,躲在房间里,还不听医生的劝告。我说,再多的爱也不能使一个人自己去热爱生命:这是一条双行道,而他并没有尽力,一切都取决于他自己。

  He said he knew how hard my words had been to say and how proud he was of me. “ I had the best teacher,” I said. “ You can do whatever you have to do.” He smiled a little. And we shook hands, firmly, for the last time.

  他说他明白要我说出这些话多不容易,他是多么为我自豪。“我有位最好的老师,”我说,“凡是你必须做的事你都能做到”。他微微一笑,之后我们握手,那是一次坚定的握手,也是最后的一次。

  Several days later, at about 4 A.M., my mother heard Dad shuffling[拖着] about their dark room. “ I have some things I have to do,” he said. He paid a bundle of bills. He composed for my mother a long list of legal and financial what-to-do's “ in case of emergency.” And he wrote me a note.

  几天后,大约凌晨四点,母亲听到父亲拖着脚步在他们漆黑的房间里走来走去。他说:“有些事我必须得做。”他支付了一叠帐单,给母亲留了张长长的条子,上面列有法律及经济上该做的事,“以防不测”。接着他留了封短信给我。

  Then he walked back to his bed and laid himself down. He went to sleep, naturally. And he did not wake up.

  然后,他走回自己的床边,躺下。他睡了,十分安详,再也没有醒来。

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