Father Father

6 Sep

I had just finished singing my plaintive song in Hebrew when I could hear my father, in the back of the auditorium, push his chair back, stand and clap loudly. I could hardly see him-the stage lights bright and blinding, limiting my vision to the first row or so. But my ears, and my heart-they could tell, they could see. My father, standing just for me, his gaze locked firmly to me, his heart full of his daughter.

We drove home that night, my face covered in pancake, so heavy it moved separate from my face. His face was full of pride, flushed with it, a smile genuine on his face, in his eyes for the first time in years. We stopped for burgers and fries, squished in costume and suit into a booth. It was the best dinner I might ever had, and we spent the rest of the drive up Hwy 2 in silence, the stars a smiling accompaniment bouncing off the calm river beside us.

My father loved me.

*****************************

I knew I was adopted from, forever, like a broken record in my head I knew this like I knew I had to pee sitting down. It was part of me-an important part of me sure, but just something else interesting and different. But ultimately, it didn’t matter. There was no divide, no division between my parents and I, no worry about flesh and blood not being theirs. They loved me, and I was theirs. No question, no subtle other meaning. I was their daughter, and they loved me.

My father especially, seemed to hold my heart. Winks and treats, patience to teach. I would follow him everywhere, and believed him when he claimed he’d pull the moon out of the sky for me.  He was magic, he was vision, he was a world I couldn’t wait to explore and touch, his was that omnipotent god of our childhoods, knowing where Halley’s Comet had come from and how to make a sponge look like swampland. 

In the land of my youth, my family glowed with simple love and contentment.  I remember being happy-plainly happy in that place, that time which stretches and sometimes reaches for me.  My mother the rock, my father the magician. Wrapped in their arms, in the space their breath made real, I never felt without, or unloved. It might just have been the only place I ever felt real.

******************************

I heard the noise, a dripping sound, persistent. I woke up further from a deep sleep, shaking my head. I opened my half finished door, the one which stuck at the top corner and needed to be sanded down, and found my father, pissing on the floor, a small river pouring into my room, splashing onto the pile of tapes by the door.

“You vile, repugnant little man!” I screamed, “What are you doing?!?!” The words, the formed themselves so perfectly and clearly on my lips, flowing out on a ribbon of hate, of anger and shame.

My screams woke him from his stupor, the drunkenness rolling off his face. “Sorry, “he muttered”, “I thought this was the bathroom.”

I screamed for him to clean it up, and now. I screamed out my rage, my sickness with the situation, my exhaustion with dealing with a drunk after everything else we’d suffered.

“I’m sorry,”he kept saying “I’m sorry.”

**************************

After Mom died Dad kept his distance. I don’t remember him touching me much, if at all. He threw himself back into work, trying to keep busy, and inadvertently kept him away from me. I assume now, from this distance, that it just hurt too much, but then, I couldn’t tell. I couldn’t see past the grey haze of grief that kept us all numb and in our corners. In shock, in pain, frozen.

I’d cry by myself, for hours when the ache was too much. My fears, while not exotic, still terrified me. I envisioned my father dying, my Daddy! and being alone. One night, finally, my father heard my cries and sobs, and called me downstairs. He held me for the first time in months, and my body nearly fell, so relieved it was to have someone finally touch me, aside from the doctor or hairdresser.

“I’m not going anywhere!” he joked gently, “Nothing can kill your old man!”

I stared at the wood panelling as he said this, his arms rough around my shoulders, and wished, fervently wished it wasn’t a joke, that he could speak plainly, tell me he loved me, tell me he’d be there.

“We ok now?”

A little while later, a book about grieving appeared on my bed, my father acknowledging my need to read through things. He wouldn’t touch me for a long time after this, dropping my hand if I grabbed his, freezing up if I leaned into him. After awhile I stopped trying, retreated. I didn’t let anyone touch me for a long time after that.

*************************

They were doing a Midsummer’s Night Dream in the park, and he agreed to come with me after work, smiling and saying “Hey, that sounds like fun!” We walked to the park, laughing, enjoying the night. We sat on lush grass as the performers continued on in front of the crowd, smiles and peace.

The skies opened with a hideous roar, and the rain came down.

He didn’t get angry. He wasn’t annoyed. He shrugged, looked at me, grinning, and said “Guess we get wet then.”

We walked home, giggling, down 6 blocks, his newspaper ruined, my shirt sticking to me. All I can remember is his smile in the rain, the shelter in that moment, healing us a little as we learned life did, and would go on.

And he was proud of me then, and I him.

***************************

I show him my writing, and his heart is near to burst. I show him my firstborn, and his eyes loose some of the hurt, the years of ache slipping off.

“You did good kid.”

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14 Responses to “Father Father”

  1. Kay September 6, 2009 at 9:46 pm #

    I’m not even sure what to say to that post… but it amazes me how you can reconcile all the different aspects of him into one man that you loved… one man that loved you.

  2. Bon September 6, 2009 at 10:35 pm #

    i have tears in my eyes, Thor. the highs and lows of the narrative arc you’ve written leave me reeling imagining trying to reconcile both, imagining the brutal loneliness of that poor kid that was you.

    and yet the love, the love…i envy that a little. not stupidly, not without recognizing the hurt that would have come from growing up in the normalcy of that love and then enduring the grief and where it took your father and you. just a little, because you make it beautiful with your words.

  3. sweetsalty kate September 7, 2009 at 9:31 am #

    Thor, I’m completely dumbstruck with this. It’s so beautifully imperfect. This is masterful.

  4. Hannah September 7, 2009 at 9:48 am #

    I love that you love him, warts and all. You have a giant heart, my dear.

  5. patois September 7, 2009 at 10:21 am #

    How lucky that he still has you, that you’ve been there for him.

  6. thordora September 7, 2009 at 10:25 am #

    Thanks all.

    My relationship with my father is…to me so achingly normal-bridging that place between childhood and adult child, reconciling the father I love with the person he is, accepting him as he is, cranky and irritating and passive aggressive, and yet sweet and kind and generous and much more open hearted than he lets on.

    It’s easy to love him. It’s been more difficult to like and respect him.

  7. crazymumma September 7, 2009 at 9:54 pm #

    He sounds. Human.

  8. thordora September 8, 2009 at 12:48 am #

    Yup. That’s the hardest thing to reconcile about a parent though methinks…

  9. bromac September 9, 2009 at 11:14 am #

    Beautiful post–beautiful relationship.

  10. Suebob September 11, 2009 at 1:53 pm #

    Really great writing. It make my heart literally leap in my chest – I thought we were having an earthquake.

  11. schmutzie September 11, 2009 at 2:06 pm #

    This weblog is being featured on Five Star Friday –
    http://www.fivestarfriday.com/2009/09/five-star-fridays-edition-70.html

  12. magpie September 11, 2009 at 4:55 pm #

    Wow. Just, stunningly wow.

  13. thordora September 11, 2009 at 11:05 pm #

    Thank you. 😀

  14. misspudding September 12, 2009 at 12:42 am #

    Awesome. It is hard, but whatever they do, as crazy as they might be, we can’t not love our parents.

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