Wednesday, March 12, 2008

More Growing Pains

Any minute now, my Dad's gonna call and say he's leaving his place to come and pick me up. I'll spend the afternoon with him, do some housework if he'll let me (doubtful), and my sister will stop in after work and drop me off home after. That all seems nice and normal when I read it, but I'm feeling like a lunatic because of it.

It's not that I don't get along with my Dad. I just don't know my Dad very well. When I can think about this from a loving perspective, I can see that he's probably as uncertain about the relationship as I am. I get resentful, because he was pretty much absent when I was a kid -- he was a teacher, and got home late, brought marking and things home, and watched the hockey game when he wasn't marking. What I remember most about summer holidays is Dad being in residence in a town 50 miles from here, doing his Masters. We'd drive him up Sunday night and drop him off, pick him up Friday night ...

I remember family vacations, going to the The Beach for camping weekends and weeks. Mostly what I remember about that is the female adults; Dad used to play with us in the water sometimes, and take us fishing. Dad did stuff at home -- there was a bookcase in the room my sister and I shared, that he built. He tied flies for fishing, when I was a kid, and I remember how magical they were, and waiting til I grew up big enough to learn how. But he'd stopped by then.

He and friends, fellow teachers, made wine at home. That wasn't like making wine now, where you go someplace and use bottled grape juice. One of his friends knew a grape-grower down the Niagara peninsula -- a whole bunch of us would go down one Saturday in October, with a trailer on the back of the car, and pick blue grapes. Our house was in the country; the crusher and grape press were in our backyard, and everyone's grapes would go through them on the Sunday. Mum made grape jelly. Dad made wine. The kids would have diarrhea for three days, cuz we'd eat as many grapes as we wanted. It was fun.

Despite all that, it feels like he was absent when I was a kid.

And now -- well, life's hurt my Dad. I get resentful now, sometimes, because he doesn't call. I call, and if he's not there, I leave a message he doesn't return. So I call again. I invite: I invite him or I invite me. He always says yes. He loves me. I think he even likes me. He's just who he is, and I can accept the things I cannot change and make the contact; or I can refuse to, and be resentful and wish I had a Dad who did things the way I want. The person I trust on these things tells me it's my Pride getting in the way of my happiness when I do that.

Soon enough, I'm just gonna be wishing I had a Dad. He got told two weeks ago, his liver's ceasing to function. He's been sick for a while; sick enough he went to the doctor. That's sign enough -- it's pretty bad already. He's not eating much, because he's so swollen inside. Like I said, life's hurt my Dad, and he's ready to let go of it, when the time comes. I'm not ready. I am doing what I've been told -- praying to see this as a natural part of life's process, and not stressful or catastrophic. That helps, and I have to do it a lot.

I've been fussing today, because I'm nervous about the afternoon -- the black blouse, or the black sweater? Tried 'em both on twice; going with the sweater. The brown leather loafers, or the red shoes with sequins I bought in the Chinese mall in Toronto last year? Wishing all kinds of things were different here. Praying about that. I prayed about it while I was washing the breakfast dishes, looking out the window at the sun and the snow ... And I could see all the sudden -- it's not just Pride that's getting in my way here, but Self-Centredness.

Dad's kind of a brown leather guy, but I'm going with the red shoes. I don't know if he'll get the message, but it is a message -- Dad, this is me and I'm all right. The last two years have looked awful from the outside -- but they're wrought wonderful change, and I'm all right, and I'm gonna stay all right, and keep getting better. I'm asking God for the courage to say that out loud, in words, too, and for Dad to be able to hear it.

1 comment:

Doorman-Priest said...

I felt every emotion in your account and some echoes of my own experience. As we have got older the relative stranger from my childhood has become a much more human figure. I hope the same for you as time passes.