Archive for November, 2017

Mourning

My dad died on October 17 of this year and I haven’t been doing so well with it.

I see his name here – in recent comments – and the waterworks start. I had thought for so long he wasn’t interested in the blog, but of late he was one of its few readers. Everyone keeps commenting to me on how we had such a “complicated” relationship. But really, it wasn’t that complicated. I loved him. Like, it broke my heart how much I loved him. And he loved me. The part folks describe as complicated, I guess, is that he was never able to love me for who I really am. And that broke me. He was forever upset at how sensitive I am, constantly telling me to toughen up. He was always criticizing my taste in things — movies, art, books, tv. He didn’t like the way I played sports, criticizing me for generous calls I made in tennis. I was just under the omnipresent understanding that I was doing it all wrong. But it wasn’t all that complicated. I loved him. He loved me. I just knew he wanted me to be a different me.

He also always made me know that he’d had it so much worse than I could know. His parents had been blindingly horrid to him and his brother. And I believe and believed it. But what was I to do with that as a seven-year-old? Or now? I was always taught that I was lucky that my dad was as “normal” and kind as he was; I should be grateful: it could be so much worse. As if any of it were something I had a part in.

I’m not exactly sure what lessons to take from my dad. I know that he gave me extraordinary gifts and tools. But he also gave me heightened sensitivity and anger and depression. But besides Molly, I know that he gave me tangible good. The thing that makes me more grateful to him than I can articulate is my love of art. It’s what makes me get up in the morning and what makes me believe in humanity. It’s what gives me hope. And I thank my dad for giving me that gift. My mom fanned and fans it for sure. But it was my dad’s passion. And I’m grateful forever to have been born in its shadow.

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