Father’s Day

 My father in Or pacific.jpg
My father was a good man, as the world of his day would see him. He wasn’t an abuser. He learned to let me go my own way, and when he couldn’t be supportive, like when I was a draft refuser (he was Navy, WWII), he kept his silence. I think he was proud of me when became active in the civil rights struggle–but we never spoke of it. Silence–was his means for communicating both approval and anger. Which made him terrifying when I was a child.
I think, from the time I was 4 years old, I was resolved that whatever I would do or be in my life, I did not want to be like my father.
In his last years–with a failing heart and facing the approaching death of my mother–who had been for him the emotional outlet he couldn’t permit himself–I no longer feared him… but neither did I have any way to comfort him, to let him know that I saw and felt what he was going through.
He died alone, a year and a day after the burial of my mother. This photo is from a few years before her death, visiting my sister in Oregon.
I remember him with neither love nor anger… but with an infinite sadness. As though the one most lasting part of himself he gave to me… was whatever it was that was missing.
A hole at the center that can never be filled. I think he doubted if anyone in the world really loved him, but my mother–and he was never quite sure he deserved that.
When I think about my father, I’m never sure that I’m talking about him… or myself.

3 thoughts on “Father’s Day

  1. I believe Kim was close to both your father and mother. They helped raise her, maybe did most of it, actually (my mo was openly apologetic about that). I love my mom, but I know her and Kim had a very difficult relationship and Kim was probably closer to her grandparents than to my mother until much later in life. You can take solace in that she loved them too and I think they would have both known that. I did not know them well myself and was too young to have any real attachment. As for my other siblings, I really do not know. I see a lot of photos around with them spending time with their grandparents, so maybe they also had close ties to them like Kim did. Given this, I don’t think your father died thinking that no one loved him, or at least I hope not. I know my mom said he took that last trip to say goodbye to everyone he knew. Took out heaps of debt that went to the grave with him. Told me this because she had hoped to do the same but my dad wouldn’t have let that happen.

    I know my mother also saw him as silent and closed off as you did. She knew he was unhappy in his job among other things. She told me a lot of things about growing up and whatnot. She was happiest spending summers by the lake.

    My mom told me so much about her past which I evidently am the only one to hold the keys to anymore. I have this weird little world of hers she described to me in great detail over the years sitting in my head. Not all of it nice but a lot of it is fascinating. I tried bringing some stories up with others but none of them know anything about it. A sibling of mine told me she was probably making it up. She didn’t really seem like the type to repeatedly lie about anything though, if anything she could be painfully candid about embarrassing things.

    Anyway, some thoughts.


  2. Peggy wasn’t one to make up stories. She didn’t need to.
    Thank you for sharing these thoughts.


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