He poured his love and energy into me with such intensity that, as I looked back on my young life, I saw a seamless merging with the man I called my father. We attended the first day of kindergarten together. We inspected military hardware together. Together, we did homework.
“Penmanship starts with your own shaped quill,” he explained to me over one calligraphy assignment, “not some Bic or even a fancy fountain pen.” He gathered half a dozen stalks of bamboo, then cupped his hands around mine and showed me how to whittle. “Take off a small sliver at a time. See? You have to will this thing into life, convince it of its new, noble role.” In his caring, persuasive hands, the stick and I were both convinced.
“Here’s the mouth of an N exactly three dots wide,” he’d say. “Look at H—not just a lifeless loop, but the marvelous shape of a pregnant woman. Think of J as the upper lid of an eye. Make it a dark, flirtatious eye. Can you feel it flirting with you? Now center a mole on her cheek. Gorgeous!”