Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Father's Day sucks.

After your dad dies, Father's Day sucks. Sucks more for Brad, really, because I mope around and cry and forget to celebrate what a great guy and dad he is because I'm caught up in the fact that my dad is dead. That's not fair. Fortunately, Brad doesn't get mad at me or even mention that I'm acting like a selfish two-year-old.

More than once, in conversations about relationships, women have asked me, "Did you 'marry your dad?'" Lots of people do, I guess, and I have always hoped that my girls "marry their dad." I did not, though. I married the opposite of my dad. He doesn't yell or even get mad. He has never hit me or the kids or even gotten mad enough to make me think that would be a possibility. He is as even and calm as my dad was unpredictable. So, no, I didn't marry my dad.

The funny thing is after I married him, I tried to change him into my dad. I would get mad at him for being indifferent, for not being passionate about things, for not getting excited all the time. Took me nearly 20 years to realize that along with that passion came a dark side. The dark side I was running from when I ran smack into Brad's protective arms.

My dad got excited about everything. That lives on in Beth, in her precious childlike glee over little things. His compassion lives on in Jonny, and his sweet gentle nature. His dark side lives on in me--and Rich. His impatience lives on in me--and Rich. His inability to accept less than the best from his children lives on in me--and Dave, a little bit. His vast vulgur vocabulary lives on in me--and Rich.

When I was one of the few children left at home, my dad would ask me to help him with various tasks. My favorite was sealing the roof. The two of us on the roof, usually in 90 degree heat, painting on some thick black goop. He would scream and yell and swear at me, and I would ultimately tire of it, scream back at him, climb down from the roof and go inside. Once, I asked my mom, "Why does he want me to go up there with him when all he does is yell at me?" She shrugged her shoulders and said, "He needs somebody to yell at."

When I got a little older, I started yelling back. Often, I got smacked in the mouth. It didn't stop me. Rich used to say, "Why don't you ever just shut up??" But I wouldn't. Once, in a heated argument when I was about 16, I told him, "You can hit me all you want, but you're damn well gonna hear what I have to say!" I did. Get hit, that is. But I'm certain that he heard me.

We used to play golf together, and he would scream and yell at me for everything I did wrong. Finally, I told him that I wasn't going to golf with him anymore if he didn't stop yelling at me. He continued to comment, but then he would say, "I'm just telling you that because I do the same thing. So I figure maybe if I tell you, I'll listen." Something about that cryptic statement made sense to me, and from then on, I imagined that all of his tirades were directed inward.

My dad had a hard life. His dad and two of his sons died at their own hands. I was always afraid he would commit suicide. My dad died in my mom's arms, which made his passing somewhat easier to handle. It's hard to reconcile the man who was so violent and abusive with the man who spent hours on the couch, while my tiny Chloe doctored him. It's hard to reconcile the man who criticized my every golf swing with the man who would wrap my little Peyton up in a hug and say, "Papa sure is proud of you, Slugger." I think in some ways my dad tried to make up for his shortcomings with me by doting on my children. I don't know. Maybe they were just more lovable.

I loved my dad in spite of his shortcomings. I love my husband for so many reasons, but one of them is for being all the things my dad wasn't. On Father's Day, while I moped around and cried, he built a deck with our son, telling him all the while what a great job he was doing and how much of a help he was. I didn't tell him how much I adored him while I watched this. I couldn't really say anything without crying that day. I guess someday Father's Day won't be such a downer, but in the meantime, I'm glad Brad puts up with my raining all over his day.

3 comments:

  1. I identify some with this. I also married the opposite of my dad. Part of the reason I married him was because he is so different from my dad, so laid back, not a yeller, doesn't get angry. But, like you said, sometimes I find myself irritated that he isn't driven like my dad was.

    I wish I had known more of what we had in common when we were younger - back then, I thought you had the perfect life...beautiful, popular...while I was the nobody. We had more in common than we knew.

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    1. Thanks, Mel, for your words. I am grateful for the opportunity to know you for the amazing woman and mother you are.

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  2. Hahahahahaha! Great minds and all that rot! So Brad never threw bricks at the kids? Pussy.

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