Dad

One of the first mem­o­ries I have of my Dad is crawl­ing under­neath the “tent” he made with his leg. I was small enough and he was big enough that being under a bent leg was con­sid­ered a tent. This was most like­ly at our house on Franklin Street. My dad was a big man. 6′3″ and over 200 pounds when I was grow­ing up. It was easy to sit on his shoul­ders to put a bas­ket­ball through the hoop, and from him I learned that the hoop is big enough to fit two balls through side-by-side. Oth­er things I learned from my father include how to jig for crap­pie and bait a night­crawler. For the most part I feel like I was a great dis­ap­point­ment to him. We had dif­fer­ent inter­ests, and while I didn’t real­ize it as a child, I don’t think we con­nect­ed as peo­ple very well. He encour­aged me to play base­ball and bas­ket­ball, but I spent my time in left field chas­ing but­ter­flies and any brief court time I had, trip­ping over my own feet. That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy some of the same things, fish­ing and clas­sic cars are both things I have a great inter­est in to this day. I even helped him and one of his bud­dies restore a 1970 GTO. Since my dad was a mechan­ic, he under­stood all about engine guts and I main­ly ran the sand­blaster and was gopher.

When my mom filed for divorce I saw a side of my father that I’d either nev­er seen before, or had been obliv­i­ous to. One vis­it with him result­ed in a long dri­ve around the coun­try, for hours, as he yelled about all kinds of dif­fer­ent things, and anoth­er inci­dent so scared me that I jumped out of the same GTO we’d restored because I was afraid of being beat­en once we got to his place. After that inci­dent, most of my con­tact with him ceased. It has been some­thing around ten years now since I’ve spo­ken with him. I think I still want his approval, although I don’t seek it. The love and trust that I had for him as a child is so tan­gled and com­pli­cat­ed by hind­sight and the new sides that I saw that it is eas­i­er to main­tain my cur­rent space than attempt to estab­lish civ­il and diplo­mat­ic rela­tions.

I don’t spend much time think­ing about him, but when I do, I main­ly won­der about the lessons I missed dur­ing my teenage years, and how I might be a dif­fer­ent man [bad or good?] today as a result of them.