Friday, April 04, 2008

Remembering Dad...
...and rendering mixed emotions on his 91st birthday...

For the most part, I don't know what to say. Where do I begin? I remember good times and bad times. I remember always being proud of him, and I also remember his temper fits and his yelling, yelling, yelling. I remember how hard he worked, I remember the fantastic fried chicken he used to make sometimes, I remember going to basketball games with him, I remember being afraid to swim "over my head", and him jumping in the water and imploring me to take the leap, which I did. I remember, also, letting him down a lot and disappointing him quite often. I remember him telling me, quote, "I love you as a son but I don't like you as a person", repeating it several times to make sure that my Mom heard him say that. I remember him coming home, after two weeks on the road and yelling at us. One time I'd spent $11.50 for a record album and he literally hit the roof. I remember thinking, "why is he so upset?"

Once, Dad introduced me to his friends thusly: "This is my son; he's more like his mother." I was probably 10 or 12 at the time, but even at that early age, I thought that was a strange thing for him to say. Another time, he said that "men don't get emotional; they cry inside." At the other end of the spectrum, I remember sitting with him and my sister at Mom's memorial service; she'd died the week before. He reached across my sister's lap and grabbed my left hand and squeezed hard. I remember, about 6 weeks after that, I was on the job and got called into the office; I asked why, and was told, "family emergency". And all of a sudden, I knew what happened. My big, strong, macho Dad, surrendering to impulse, gone in an instant. I try not to think about that anymore. And I hope I don't end up doing the same thing, due to heredity. I believe Dad had depression and anxiety issues. My sister has gone through her rough mental periods. And I have been twice diagnosed "Bi-Polar" and I go through all the ups and downs of that condition, on an almost daily basis.

I remember Dad telling me, "The number of true friends you make in your lifetime, you'll be able to count on one hand." I remember him saying, "ninety-nine percent of all the people in the world are sons-of-bitches." I remember him threatening to raise holy hell if I came home with "one of those God-damned Beatles records." And I remember him using The Stick. I remember him clipping my guitar strings while I was playing, and I shouted out, "Why the HELL did you do that?" and that's when he socked me in the face. I remember him trying as hard as he could to provide for our family; maintaining our house, building fences around the yard. Dad and I built a storage shed in two days. I held the nails, he hammered. He would raise the hammer up so close to his face that he would regularly come to within a quarter-inch of his face before slamming the nail home. I remember Dad trying, trying, trying, to be as good as he could be, all the time, but yet I remember the terror, hurt and anger he often leveled at his family. That would be me, my sister, and my Mom.

I am not sure, to this day, that I even miss him at all. Mixed emotions, definitely. Like any talented person, Dad had many contradictions boiling within him. He could play guitar and keyboards; he could sing, he could cook better than Mom, he could lay carpet, coat an entire floor with tile in record time, and still have energy left over to play Lawn Darts and Frisbee with me. And I remember, too, that I was always afraid of him. Walking around on tiptoes so as not to set him off. And as I age, I find more and more that I have his temper boiling inside of me. At times I am deep-down sad, anxious or depressed more than I'd like to be, and many times, I've just stayed at home alone over the last decade, just not wanting to be in the same room with anyone. I hate to be told what to do. And if anyone confronts me like Dad used to, I rise up. I had to take it from Dad. I don't have to take it from anyone else. I once got 'in the face' of a radio program director I used to work for when he began yelling and screaming at me. No one will ever do that to me again.

I remember Mom telling me a few years before she passed away that Dad had a drinking problem all those years, but he hid it from my sister and me. She thought that was at least part of the reason he would explode at our family with the smallest provocation. Dad, being 'old school', medicated himself with The Bottle. And, my jaw literally dropped open when Mom then told me, "If I'd known your Dad was gonna turn out the way he did, I wouldn't have married him." I'll never forget that. I remember, after I'd moved out and was living on my own, hearing my Mom's voice calling me at 3am one early Summer morning. I had the window open to let in cool air. No, it wasn't a dream. It was Mom, all right, and she had driven over from the town where they lived, and didn't have anywhere to go. She stayed in my apartment for a week. Evidently, Dad and she had raging arguments long after I'd left the nest which made things unbearable for her. It wasn't the last time Mom felt she had to Get Away From Dad.

Mom and Dad rest here in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. At least I hope they're resting.

So today is April 4th, right smack dab in the middle of the Aries birth sign. Dad's birthday. I'd wish him a 'happy birthday', but I don't know if he could ever really be happy. And like a typical full-blooded Aries, Dad would go through walls if they stood in his way. He indeed was a rugged, macho type of guy, who might have been weak inside, something he'd never reveal to anyone. I think of Dad now, and because I've got some of his genes, and I'm getting older, maybe I understand him a little bit better with the passing years. But I'll never fully understand. And I'm glad I don't have to deal with him anymore. I've come to think of death as a time when the mind is finally at rest. And I hope that Dad, wherever he is, is at peace, or at least, is finding more peace than when he was alive. Did I ever "love" my Dad? I don't know. I'm not even sure what "love" is anymore. But...I don't want anyone to suffer the way he did...or to continuously go thru the mental ups and downs my sister and I continue to go thru after all these years.

Both my sister, who has been suicidal, and I (who have not!) are going to counseling and take various prescriptions to make the world a little more bearable. I'm just starting the long journey, but I'm glad to say that my Sister appears to have stabilized quite a bit over the last year. I will always believe that, at least to a point, the tendency to have mental problems is inherited. My definition of life? "It is what it with it".


Blogger Dogwalkmusings said...

Yep. Deal with it. But know too that total strangers, like me, have come to care for the part of you you've chosen to share on your blog.

What we know is a pretty neat guy. Does it outweigh the genetic baggage? Maybe not, but it is a balance of sorts. I like the way the balance is tipping - to the good side.

10:18 AM  
Anonymous JeanieSpokane said...

Very poignant and bittersweet. I had a very close relationship with my Dad but I watched it turn caustic with my brothers. It was sad to watch. Actually very beautifully written. I think you could relate to Marmite - I hope she reads this. Thanks for spilling your heart.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Idaho Escapee said...

Hi, Ms. Dogwalker...I don't think emotional baggage ever goes away, it's just that at times I process that baggage better than I do at other times. Considering the alternative, though, I'd rather live. No matter how bad things get. And all of you regular blogreaders have all been really good to me. Although, I think I'm too self-centered; it seems more people read my blog than I read theirs. And you know, Ms. Dogwalker, you aren't a total stranger. Not at ALL.

Jeanie, I wanted to do a Tribute to my Dad. I do remember the good. He was an influence on my life, and of course, I inherited some of the emotional tendencies he had. Sometimes I don't blame him at all for being such a loner, which he was. I get that way, too, when I think nothing I try is working. Bittersweet? Yes, you are accurate there. But...I can't blame Dad, not really. But, for better or worse, he is a permanent part of me. I hope that when he looks down on me from Heaven (if that's indeed where he is), he'll think that I'm not such a Bad Guy after all. All I have to do now is get past May 27th, the anniversary of his death. And I'm sure I will. Thanks for your understanding.

7:17 PM  
Blogger MarmiteToasty said...

(((IE)))) a beautiful raw emotional tribute from your heart.... you're one alright geezer :)

*waving at Jeaniespokane* lol


1:09 PM  
Blogger Idaho Escapee said...

Mizz Marmee...Geezer, huh? As in old geezer? I resemble that! Thanks for stopping by this here blogg. Always glad when an English lass reads wot I writ...

11:06 PM  

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