Submitted by megan on Thu, 11/20/2008 - 18:58
A few nights ago, hanging out with the Born Ruffian, I mentioned that my Dad was coming for a visit.
"That's weird," he said.
I was surprised. I knew it was weird, this visit, for me and my father, but in general, it's normal for parents to visit their children. I clicked back through prior conversations, and couldn't remember ever having talked about my dad, or about my relationship with him. I wasn't quite sure why the BR would think it was weird.
"Yeah, it is," I said.
"You haven't really mentioned him, so I just assumed that you two were either estranged or he was dead."
That was a shock to me. We're not, not technically, and he's not, most definitely. It's made me a bit sad this week, to think that my relationship with one of my parents is so tenuous that people new to my life assume he's dead.
My dad and I see each other a couple times a year, generally, when I go to Stouffville, and we do get lots of visits in each time. Other than that, we might have one or two phone calls through the year. He came to visit me once for about 4 hours on Boxing Day in 2001. It's not a lot of contact.
I can't give you a good reason. Not one, anyway.
He was a miserable man for many many years, and made our family life miserable for the same duration, years when I might have been developing a more adult relationship with him. He and I spent a lot of that time fighting. Yelling, slammed doors, deadly pursed-mouth silence.
We're very similar in temperament and personality - the shop where he builds engines is cleaner and better organized than my house; I got my melancholic core from him - but we hold the opposite views on everything that is important to me.
But he's not a bad man. He means well. He loves me very much. He's proud of me. As he's gotten older, he's mellowed, at least the edges burred off his racism, sexism and homophobia. As I've gotten older, I've cut him more slack, allowed myself to see the soft spots behind his gruffness.
But I'm still glad that my sister is coming for half the visit, so I don't have to bear it alone.