Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Thoughts of Daddy
I don’t remember ever calling him “Daddy” in my younger, and even ‘middle,’ years. But it was always what my Soul called him. He and I were not comfortable with each other. We were not comfortable with the world around us.
I was his first child … and he repeatedly made it clear that I was an inconvenient intrusion on his honeymoon. The termination of my presence was something looked forward to … and I got the message (loud and clear) that when the time necessary for my raising was exhausted … there was no place for me under his roof. Sitting around his dinner table (after divorce had removed the Element of conflict from between my mother and me) there was some discussion about all of those years between my leaving home, and rekindling contact. Mom wanted some help in understanding (or, better yet … wanted me to suffer through an attempt at justification for) the twenty-plus years that we did not speak. The wedding that I chose to not invite them (any of my immediate family) to; the children who did not know that they had grandparents (on my side) or an aunt, uncles, cousins, and on and on. “How could you live like that without it bothering you?” I was asked.
“It was really quite simple” I replied. “I had lived so many years hearing the house, that I lived in, referred to, by my parents, in phrases like “as long as you live in my house …” that I had no difficulty in understanding that it was not OUR house. I was living, out of a temporary necessity, in YOUR house. So, first … it was never ‘home,’ and secondly … it was, quite clearly, not MY home. When you are raised to understand that you are an unwelcome intruder into someone else’s world … leaving, and then dismissing, that world, is to rid oneself of the burden of being constantly reminded, of your ‘unwelcome alien’ status.” And, at that point, I recall looking around the table … and seeing looks (on all faces present there) that showed the light of an awareness that silently said “Oh! I remember saying those things. Oops! Didn’t know that they would be taken so literally.” And, in Daddy’s eyes … I saw the “oh shit!” look. A well-recognized look of having failed … yet again. That look that, certainly not for the first time in our pilgrimage, gave me cause to feel oh-so-badly for him.
For, you see, Dear Reader Friend, I have always sensed that Daddy wanted to experience a tender and yes, intimate, relationship with me (in fact, with All in his world.) But, alas, he never had a clue how to allow that to happen. Raised by a man who knew only military discipline (my granddad served in the U S Coast Guard [after the dismantling of the Lighthouse Service] as a civilian Keeper of navigational aids in and around the manatee River and outer Tampa Bay. He bore the total responsibility for raising his three sons, after his wife [Daddy’s Mom] passed away, early in their lives.)
There was NO affection, nurturing, tenderness, encouragement, praise, or even remote validation in that home. Only discipline. Orders, and punishment, for orders not perfectly followed. So … poor Daddy … he had all of his feelings, yearnings, desires, and emotions … all stored, pent up, confined, and compartmentalized … and for the first time in his life he had a window of opportunity for releasing them all … and having them eagerly accepted, embraced, and appreciated. He had his wife. Bliss! Then ... he became a father. And the full weight of parenthood landed on his unprepared shoulders. And the only script that he had for that role … was the one given him by his father. And he hated that script. But it was all that he had. Hence, the Conflict, that my presence, visited upon him. And no more, the freedom to explore all of those neglected, suppressed, and denied inner workings of his most passionate and caring Self. Responsibility and duty were, once again, his masters.
( My suspicions of the presence of a complex, of hidden aspects of his inner Self, were confirmed with Mom’s sharing, with me [fairly recently], his letters written whilst they were courting [and he was away in the service of the U S Navy.] She stumbled upon the letters [long forgotten] as she delved into the bowels of ‘The Cedar Chest.’ That vessel of ancient Treasures holding all of her life’s artifacts and mementos. She phoned me, in excitement and with an urgent need to share these resurrected Intimacies. It was with an obvious sense of wonder, and even surprise, that she read Daddy’s words of endearment. He was open, unguarded, romantic, insightful, empathetic, and yes … even poetic, in his messages to the first person who he had ever been able to expose those beautiful aspects, of his inner Self, to. As I listened, I heard (in the background of recollection) a lifetime of Mom’s chiding and belittling remarks about what she deemed to be “the inherited inability of the Brown boys to have any sense of romance, tender affection, or regard for the feelings of, anyone.” I had heard such declarations so frequently, and openly, made, for so many years, that their echo was deafening. And then, here she was … over the phone, reading words that reminded her … and informed me … that my Dad was, in fact, a gentle and caring Romantic. Further confirmation, to my predisposed and sensitized mind, that my birth had confused and discouraged Daddy’s sensibilities and capabilities. No wonder, indeed, that he felt so threatened and resentful of the circumstance of Parenthood interrupting his first chance to live out all that had been denied him before falling in love with Mom.)
Equipped as I am with the Temperament and Nature that is mine, I had been keenly conscious (throughout all of those years of his rigidity and frustrated anger) of an unidentified current that flowed beneath Daddy’s well-rehearsed surface. So, as I said earlier, I knew … but had no definition for … another Being that was him. For many years he and I battled that unspoken, invisible, and troublesome ghost relationship. Prior to my leaving home (at age twenty-one) … and then after our reuniting (at age forty-three) we had both struggled with what we sensed that we wanted to realize … but had no facility for claiming.
And then, Life gave me the Gift of understanding and appreciating the beauties of freed and enjoyed thoughts and feelings. Thankfully, I was (in Daddy’s final few years) able to celebrate telling him that I love him … at my parting, after every visit. And to tell him with the tag of “Daddy.” “I sure do love you Dad,“ I would say. His discomfort and unease lessened noticeably over time. Even more wonderful is the way that he accepted my Heart’s message … embraced it … and learned to share it between us. Unfortunately, I am the only one of his children, in whom he found that sweet Place. But I am so delighted that I was given the lovely opportunity to invest those few years that were required to nurture it into reality, for us.
I tell you, Precious One, these things … so that you can grant yourself (and perhaps some specific Others) some measure of patience and maybe even forgiveness. I give this to you, to offer real and tangible Hope, for what can be … now that you know that good stuff can be born out of yucky stuff. Daddy and I want you to know that. [smile]
I do love You … really!
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