On a shelf near my desk are a couple of chunks of Paper Mache that I value more than if they were made of solid gold or chiseled by a master sculptor our of the finest marble.
They were made at weekend events called Fathers, Sons, and Brothers (FSB) that were held about a year apart.
FSB’s were created to celebrate the love of strong male relationships and to honor each other in them, as well as to help those who grieved the loss of a father, son, or brother, or were in pain from damaged, broken or non-existent relationships.
I went with my Dad for the first FSB, my older son for the second, and younger son for the third—-the latter two when they were young adults.
Each FSB was a very powerful weekend of celebration, forgiveness, and healing, and each FSB reinforced to me, my father, and my two sons just how blessed we were to all be alive, healthy, and in strong loving relationships with each other.
During the second and third FSB’s a man introduced a process that was quite remarkable in its simplicity and quite wonderful in its result.
He asked each father and son to sit at a picnic table across from each other and to clasp each other’s right hand as though we were going to arm wrestle, but leaving our hands upright, and to hold that position until he said to let go.
He then began to put some mesh all over our hands and then slathered a thick layer of that Paper Mache goop all over the mesh covering our hands.
He then reminded us not to move, and then went to the next father/son pair to begin the process again.
At first it was a bit awkward. We were leaning toward each other with our faces only two to three feet apart and with our hands covered by a big glob of white goop–a bit out of our ordinary to say the least.
After awhile of staring awkwardly, we relaxed and just started talking to each other. We were closer physically to each other then than perhaps at any time since my boys were infants or young children, other than the quick hugs that pass for physical contacts between some men of our culture.
It was intimate, and it was special. We talked and enjoyed the time with each other. When the goop on our hands solidified, the man very carefully cracked it off to keep the mold that he created intact. As we washed off our hands, he poured new Paper Mache goop into the mold we’d just made.
When the goop dried, he broke apart the mold to reveal a life-size and remarkably accurate replica of us clasping hands. Every finger, knuckle, and nail was visible.
We looked at it and knew that it was a symbol of the strength of our love and our bond, and the respect we have for each other.
As I said earlier, I value those hunks of Paper Mache more than if they were made of solid gold or chiseled by a master sculptor our of the finest marble.
I see them several times per day and they bring a smile to my face.
When my time on this planet is done, my sons will each get the one with their hand and mine.
And eventually, perhaps their children will get them too.