Working with Dad

To say I have issues with my father is like saying Grey Gardens had trouble with their electricity.

My issues with my father go way back. He still reminds me how I was mean to him as a toddler but then claims he holds no grudges. He and my mom were in the same real estate business with offices across the street from each other. Not figuratively across street, literally. I could look from my dad’s second floor window into my mom’s store. Her office was in the back of the building lacking a Main Street view.

I heard stories about how they complemented each other in business but more commonly they told anecdotes criticizing the other’s business practices. My dad did thought my mom should raise her rents, repair small scratches, delegate an overweight salesgirl to work in the back room, if at all, and so on. He’d share his thoughts with me and my siblings with the expectation that we’d echo them to our mom. Mom would turn around and tell us what changes Dad should make to his property, or just advise us to tell him to mind his own business.

Now that my mom has passed and I am running the property, and my dad has relocated his office around the corner, we are still in the same industry. In the same small town. With the same genetics. And the same baggage that has plagued us for years – whether we’ll admit it or not.

My dad has asked me to help him rent his stores, considering I have rented one of mine recently. I want to help him. He’s my dad, and I’ll inherit the property with my siblings (although his wife gets to manage it). But I’ve been down this road before. My dad promises me something (a commission) and doesn’t communicate with his wife. Or will fein selective memory, “I don’t remember saying that.” Or will rent the space and not tell me and I’ll still be spinning my wheels for him.

Sure he’s been through a lot recently, playing the cancer card again, and he’s commented to my sister how close he feels towards me but I have to remember something my mother taught me about being screwed, yes even by my dad: Screw me once shame on you. screw me twice, shame on me. As my expectations rise and visions of an honest relationship float through my head, I keep my feet on the ground and remember that my father has been consistent for the 30 years I’ve known him and I cannot expect him to behave so differently today.

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