Monday, June 21, 2004

The Trees in His Forest (Part I)

The book I got my dad for Father's Day was called "The Trees in My Forest" by Bernd Heinrich. Okay, he actually doesn't have it yet because Books A Million I'd Never Buy didn't have it. I don't guess it mattered much because my dad was way under the weather yesterday. Way under. My dad, who I still call Daddy to his face and always will, whose father lived to the ripe age of 85, is probably not going to make it that far. Statistics state his life expectancy has dropped by 12 years. ]My dad has asbestosis overlayed by more severe silicosis. This is thanks to the time he spent in the shipyards for the Navy. It is also thanks to the major grocery store chain he worked for which exposed him to asbestos insulation in the warehouse and silica dust at the railyards. Thanks so much. My dad is old-school Republican. He wasn't around much when I was a kid. He worked, all the time. And when he wasn't working, he was a weekend warrior in the Navy Reserves. And when he wasn't working or playing soldier he was taking college classes. And when he wasn't doing any of that he was hunting, fishing, working with a civic organization, mowing grass... etc. etc. I got him two weeks a year when we went camping. My mom is not the kind of woman who could handle this. My mom is co-dependent and raised me that way, which I have fought against for the past 7 years. Because of her unhappiness, she talked frequently and poorly about my dad. And I resented him as much as she did. Naturally, we didn't see eye to eye. When I left for my year abroad in Germany, that all sort of changed. My dad wrote me one letter, one personal letter while I was there. My dad worked midnights at that time and he told me he would take Boo-Boo, my hateful black Manx, and go upstairs to my room to sleep (no phone up there) and would think of me and wonder how I was. I'll never forget that. When I came home, my mom started again, the complaining about my dad. After going a year without that experience it suddenly struck me full force. I took it about two weeks and I finally told her, bluntly, to shut up about my dad. She admitted much later that she knew that she had interfered in my relationship with my dad. I missed some years though. It really came to a head when I became pregnant. I was unmarried but my son's father was not. Yeah, big mistake. My mother had a field day. She worried about what everyone would think. I heard what a disappointment I was over and over again. She refused to come to my baby shower. I was left out of family photographs. Every dig she could dig, she dug. And dug and dug and dug. As hard as she could. The aftermath is another story. But although I know my dad was disappointed, he never said anything to me. I guess he figured my mom more than made up for his silence. When I would go to their house, he would meet me at my car. He would ask me if I was okay. He would ask me if I needed anything. Then he would go. He never did this in front of my mother less he suffer her wrath for showing compassion. Through all this, I don't take sides between my parents. I understand my dad in ways my mom completely and utterly misses. Must be those genes. They say that sons and mothers are more alike genetically, as are fathers and daughters. Don't I know it. When people see me with my mom, they think I look like her but then they meet my dad, and they say, "oh no, you look like your dad." Nah, not really. I just act like him and that's what makes us look alike.
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    1 Comments:

    Blogger phoebe said...

    at 35, I still call my father "Papa" and always will.

    6/21/2004 07:53:00 PM  

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