Anyone who’s read this blog for a while knows I have a pretty complex relationship with my parents. I know they did the best they could for me and with me, and I believe they are both good people. I love my parents. I really do. But we’re not close, really, and we never have been. I was much closer to my dad’s parents when I was a child than I was to my parents, partly because they had to work and my grandparents were retired and had the time to spend with me that my parents simply couldn’t. But mostly because my parents didn’t really know what to make of me or what to do with me. I think they both had a skewed idea of what parenthood would be, and what the kid they would make together would be like, and then the reality of me was there, and well…I wasn’t what they bargained for.
That being said, I have always related easier to my dad than my mom, and I feel closer to my dad than my mom, and I always have been. When I was a kid, my dad took me to baseball games and horse races and tennis matches. My mom worked for a company that made television recording equipment, and they got given a lot of free sporting event tickets as ‘perks,’ so we took advantage of that, and the tennis was probably my favorite. My dad drove a black 1978 two-door Chevy Monza hatchback with black vinyl interior when I was a little girl. It had a rusted roof and rust on the passenger side fender and a chunk out of the center of the driver’s side door handle so Dad had to open it with two fingers. We covered the seats in the summertime with beach towels (which faded from bright red and gold and orange and green to light pastels in the sun) to avoid burning our legs and leaving skin on the vinyl. It didn’t have air conditioning. I describe this car to my son now, and he’s absolutely flabbergasted how I could possibly go anywhere with my dad in the summertime in a car with no A/C (because it is crazy hot and humid here at the junction of the American Midwest and South), but I did. And I loved it. We took that crappy looking car to a tennis tournament and valet parked it with the pass from my mom’s work and we could pick it out in the lot with BMWs and Rolls Royces. And Dad would buy me the $5 lemon ice and we’d watch Michael Chang and Jim Courier and Pete Sampras when they were teenagers (or just barely more than teenagers) play tennis all afternoon on some August day. We didn’t talk to each other. But those were good days and good memories of my childhood.
All the good memories of my childhood that don’t involve school or my grandparents are with my dad. All of them. I’ve written before about my dad and sports, and my dad and music, and I mentioned John Prine in the music post. Mr. Prine passed away recently of COVID 19, and that made me think of my dad. It has always made me sentimental and teary eyed hearing this song, but I cried a week or two ago hearing it when I learned about Mr. Prine and this terrible virus. Because of the good memories of my childhood attached to his music, and because of my dad.
My dad dancing with me at my wedding is one of the rare times I remember him genuinely happy and laughing. ^^^^ It’s one of maybe 5 total pictures of him I’ve ever seen with a natural smile on his face. (He usually doesn’t smile at all.)
I’ve said before my dad and I don’t talk much. He doesn’t talk much at all (which is one of quite a few behavioral quirks we have in common), but when he does, it’s usually yelling (which is something we don’t have in common). He doesn’t really know me very well as a person. And I probably don’t know him well either. Not his fears or the dreams he had as a boy or a young man or his life philosophy or his inner thoughts and feelings. He doesn’t share that stuff…just like me. Or I guess I’m just like him. Unless he has a blog I don’t know about, which he could for all I know. But I know my dad is a smart, intellectual man, and I did learn a couple of things from him. The main one is that sometimes when someone is crossing your personal boundaries, and trying to hurt you or someone you love, or even just some other vulnerable person, it’s alright to tell that person to fuck off. Even if that person is your friend, or your spouse, or your boss. (My dad did tell his boss to fuck off once for asking him to do something my dad felt went against his personal moral code. And then my dad got promoted.) I’m glad he taught me that and gave me that. I’ve needed it. I’ve used it. Maybe it’s made some people not like me very much, but…it’s kept me safe.
Anyway, I know it’s not approaching Father’s Day yet, and my dad’s birthday is in late November, so maybe it’s weird that I’m writing a big post about my dad right now. But he had to have ‘minor, routine’ heart surgery this week. During THIS shit. And yeah, we aren’t close like a lot of fictional fathers and daughters are. Or even ‘reality’ fathers and daughters. But I love my dad. And I worry about my dad. And I’ve been thinking about him a lot, but I can’t spend a lot of time with him now for world reasons, and I don’t spend a lot of time with him (and never really have except for sports and music silent experience sharing) normally or ever because we don’t know each other very well really, and because despite the personality similarities we share, we seem to get along better apart anyway.
And I’ve been thinking about all the folks out there who have ailing or even dying parents (or grandparents…or spouses…or friends…or even kids…) who can’t see them now. And I think about how we all need to stay home and wash our hands and wear masks and social distance…to make this shit end definitively…so we can all see each other again safely. I really hope things don’t open back up too soon and keep everyone away from the people they wish they could see longer in the long run. But for the love of anything, please don’t inject, ingest, or inhale disinfectant. (sigh)
Be careful out there.
Take care of yourself.
Try to help someone if you can. ❤