Monday, June 22, 2015

Father's Day

It’s the dead of night as I sit here on my front porch and write this. Father’s day has passed. The incandescent glow of the street light a half a block away and the night songs of the nocturnal birds are my only company. The smoke of my cigar keep the insects at bay and I can’t help but be awake. After all, I did have a three hour nap not an hour ago.
            Inside, on the television David Tennent and Billy Piper are stranded on a space station outside a black hole and are fighting off the Ood and Satan. I love that episode. Actually, it is two episodes. Yet, here I sit talking to you. Yes, you my dear reader, and I don’t really know or understand why.
            Especially the ending, where David looks into the eyes of Satan and says “I know who you think you are but I don’t believe in you.” Or some such words. Very powerful stuff. If you’ve never watched the current Doctor Who then I can’t expect you to understand but if you have or even if you are religious then you may or just might understand.
            After all, who doesn’t want to look into the face of evil and not just shout it down but stare it down as well.
            Today, well, yesterday, I’d like to think I did something of that nature.
            You see, I went to church. I like church. My back doesn’t but I do. Normally, I can’t sit in the seat provided for the parishioners so I end up sitting in the lobby listening to the music and sermon on the speakers. Today though, the speakers were turned off. So I sat there mostly by myself and then my wife joined me. We talked, we laughed, we joked and we bonded. It was a really nice time. It made me very happy.
            After the service, my wife who takes care of the pastor’s kids, had to take them to the waiting area. This area is not where most people leave the building. Nope, it is in the back by the storage rooms. We went there and I sat against a wall talking and playing with a bunch of kids. After all, I am nothing but an eight year old trapped in a forty-eight year olds body. We had fun. We laughed, joked and smiled. I felt human. I felt great. I felt like all the worries of the world were beyond me. That nothing could ever hurt me, that no one could harm me and that I was immortal.
            And, truth be told, for those brief moments… I was.
            It was very refreshing being surrounded by youth and exuberance. Being engulfed in a world of possibilities that held no strife or pressure. I didn’t want it to end. We made up games, poked each others bellies, gave noogies to one another, laughed, talked and held ourselves in a bubble of seclusion that no adult would or could penetrate.
            Yet, as all things, this ended. My wife and daughter and I went to lunch, we talked, we poked fun of each other and laughed. We hung out long after our bill was paid and when we left, them in their Jeep and I on my Harley, we made sure we would see each other in the not so distant future.
            Not two hours later I was home as was my family. We watched television and conversed during commercials. Then they left to pay their respects to my Father in law. Can’t say as I could blame them. I was invited but I backed out.
            Father’s day is a very odd day for me. You see, and I’m going to get kind of raw here so I hope you don’t mind, I really don’t like this day.
            Growing up, mostly without a father or dad or even a decent father figure, I never really had much cause to celebrate this day. If you knew me and my past you might understand, and if you don’t, well, let’s just say that the television and my friends fathers showed me what dads were supposed to be.
            Sure, for the first six or seven years of my life I had a dad, he was always working and rarely home. When he was home, we all walked on eggshells so he wouldn’t get upset, yell or smack anyone. (Mind you, this was in an age when it was okay to smack a kid or a spouse.) Yet I do remember those rare times when my dad would take me fishing and leave my sisters and mom at home, but for the most part, my dad was someone to be feared.
            Now, so many years later, I’ve taken what I’ve learned from my youth and instilled it into my own life as a father. Instilled it as an example of what not to do.
            You see, for the past fifteen years, almost sixteen really, I’ve talked with my offspring. I’ve listened to her, I’ve tried to be supportive in all her ideas and cultivate a relationship of openness and honesty that I wish I’d had as a young person. I believe it is working.
            As an example, my child has no qualms about sitting in my lap, giving me hugs, speaking to me about difficult decisions in her life or even telling me secrets her and her friends have. She knows I won’t judge and I won’t interfere. She understands that I am a sounding board for her own life and conscious. She feels safe with me and I her. We have developed a level of trust over the years that I hope and pray will last both of our lifetimes.
            This is something I can’t say I ever had with my father. I can say this is something I have been able to cultivate with my mother over the past fifteen years. It has not been an easy thing to do since we were estranged from each other in my teens and when we finally met up in my late twenties I was somewhat of an asshole. Yet we managed to form a relationship, a bond that makes us actually like and respect each other as humans and adults.
            I wish I could say this was true for all men and women. But I can’t.
            Sure I know plenty of people my age with parents but few who have open and honest talks with their folks. Partly because of them and partly because of their parents. I’d like to believe, yet I find it hard at times, that I have that open and honest relationship with my parents.
            I don’t. Not with both of them.
            One I have to coddle and think about feelings and try not to upset the proverbial apple cart. The other, I can pretty much say whatever I want, which is pretty fucking cool, even if it upsets their sense of self respect. I know I can be as crass, raw and as sensitive as I need to be and not be judged. Which after all, is what all children want.
            We just want to be accepted, to be loved no matter what, good, bad, warts, beauty, success and failure. We just want to know that someone out there loves us and will be there to pick us up when we fall and to laude us when we succeed.
            I hope my offspring knows she can expect nothing but love and compassion from me and I hope yours, if you have them, know they can expect the same from you.

            Have a great week.

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