More Daddy Issues

March 10, 2016

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Last night I had the pleasure of celebrating my mom’s birthday with a good friend who I admire as both a creative and an entrepreneur.  We went to see Neal Brennan’s show 3 Mics in Noho.  The comedian went to each different mic to share emotional stories, stand up and one liners.  As a creative person who has not been exercising her muscle, I found myself laughing and nodding in agreement throughout the bits.

 

Neal talked about his critical and nasty father who admitted that he did not really love him and specifically omitted him from his will.  His dad apparently tried to control his children with money.  On his death bed, his father called him to his side trying to get him to plea to be reinstated in the will.  What a shmuck.  To spend his final moments with his son trying in a messed up power play versus sharing a sweet memory is a complete waste.

 

It made me realize that for all of my dad’s nonsense and controlling techniques, he was not such a bad guy.  On his deathbed, my dad made jokes and celebrated his family.   He never missed an opportunity to tell me he loved me or how proud he was to be my father.  Yes, he tried to control me with his money both when he was alive and, as my mom promised, from the grave.  While he told us one thing and his will said another, my siblings and I are treated equally, making for a united front that has only brought us closer together.

 

Brennan talked about the vulnerability of doing stand-up as opposed to being creative with another person whom he could hide behind.  Somehow the security blanket of having a celebrity beside you gave him courage and now in an effort to live more fully he is branching out on his own.   His dad’s narcissism and his desire for approval influenced his work.  I remember writing spec scripts and sharing them with my dad, then being disappointed when he did not find time to read them.

 

We should all be so lucky to lose our parents.  It’s the right cycle of life.  And when it happens, there is a sense of liberation.  I see how my brother has been able to thrive without the shadow of my dad following him.  His wife commented on how it was not until my dad’s final year of his life that my brother garnered enough courage to say no directly to my dad.  No hiding or evading or stretching the truth as to why he would not be at his beckon call.   He regrets not being able to do that sooner.  Personally, I credit my husband with helping me stand up to my parents and not be so dependent on their approval.

 

All of this on what would have been my mothers 68th birthday.  I know she would have been pleased that I went out spontaneously to see a great show.  More importantly she must be so pleased that my brother sister and I have all broken free from any chains she or my dad may have held.

 

 

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First Father’s Day

June 11, 2013

Father’s Day is less than a week away.  My first Father’s Day of hopefully many that I will celebrate with my amazing husband and our fantastic family and not my Dad.  Four months after his passing I confront my first Father’s Day without Dad.  I overly appreciate my fortune in creating the family I adore and remind myself that it could always be worse.  And it could.  I’ll take this lot, with all of it’s baggage.  But it still remains a great pain. And this is my kaddish to bear.

Every year we’d don our sunscreen and hats, posing for photos in actual film.
“take another,” my dad would scream eager to use the camera roll.
And we’d go out to the strawberry field on the side of the highway doing the work of immigrant farmers who would become a significant presence in our community.

And then we’d take our bounty of strawberries home in the metal pots and plastic vegetable bags – those thin ones from the produce section – to save the cost of the cartons the farmer would gouge our family. We’d make strawberry jam, strawberry rhubarb pie, strawberry pancakes and strawberry presents. We’d load up in the car and drop off strawberries for friends. This was our Father’s Day and we went strawberry picking.

As I got pregnant and remained pregnated for three non consecutive Father’s Day we would still visit and eat strawberries.


Grasping

January 25, 2013

I am an optimist.  Sometimes to the point of naivete.

Before I began this post, I reviewed the titles of previous posts one of which was Don’t Make The Same Mistake Twice.  I don’t remember that mistake, but I find myself repeating the advice.

 

I’m trying to remain optimistic while being honest with myself – another axiom I preach.

My dad is really sick.  I’ve known if for some time during most of which he enjoyed thoroughly.  He was not in too much pain but I knew he was frail.  And then he got frail.  And frailer.  And I’ve been scared.

I hold out hope that he will get strong enough to receive more drugs with the hopes the tumors will shrink.  The lymph nodes go down.  The blood flows back through his legs so swollen they are not moved.

A part of me believed that, and I’m not sure if a part of me still does.  Would it be easier to say it’s gonna end as we always knew it would and begin the goodbye process.  Do we talk about executors and executrixes and make the five year deposit into the grandchildren’s college funds.

 

The doctor said to me, “we’re grasping at straws” before leaving.

I know my dad.  I know how strong he is.  I know he beat this before. And came out with a great quality of life.  And perhaps will just have bursts of that, but we’ll take it.  He is stable now. They did a successful procedure today and are now stopping the blood thinners.  I made him soup for tomorrow.  He’s going to get out of the ICU and into a room on another floor. My sister and cousin will come in this week.

 

And life goes on.

Whoever has the most fun wins.

 


Skeletons in Someone’s Closet

February 9, 2012

It’s been a slow start to writing this year but a new baby will do that. Even now as i type with my left hand because my son is sucking on my right, I’m struggling to do this post. A healthy baby and a happy family is a great trade-off. A lot has happened since I last wrote and I’m not sure where to begin, but a new person in the world and the recent and unexpected loss of my favorite uncle brings me to the topic of mortality.

My dad lost his brother and best friend three weeks ago. And despite all of my dad’s cancers treatments and metastases I’m finally fearing for his mortality. He’s been afraid on and off for years, but I was able to tune it out as I was still mourning my mom who never blatantly felt it was the end and did not want his insecurities to overshadow her loss. I remember my mom paying the extra fare to upgrade to first class as a “direct result of her diagnosis” and say that she had no regrets, but she would not share fears of dying. And my father with his seemingly better diagnosis would articulate his fears.

I do not have too many regrets with my relationship with my dad. Sure I wish some things may have played out differently, but we each have strong stubborn personalities and to have avoided certain disagreements would require we each be different people. And my dad can be difficult. But I think he used to be a lot more difficult.

My mother and grandmother have shared some rather unpleasant stories about my dad’s behavior when he was married to my mom. Embarrassing stories that I wish were not true and I ask my grandmother not to mention again. Last week at lunch my dad tells me how he is proud of his behavior and has never done anything shameful, and I want to scream out what about all of the women you seduced while married to mom? (Fortunately he has ceased reminding me that when he wanted to work things out with my mom, she had no interest.) He doesn’t know I know, and I believe he no longer has a wandering eye, or the energy, but I wonder if this is something I should address with him.

It all happened over 30 years and I wonder what questions of reckless choice I made as a youth I will be forced to answer to my children. Then again, I cannot imagine prophesying to my kids about my exemplary life. One of my dad’s contentions with me has been that I take him literarily, and this would be another example of that. To have an open relationship with my dad do we need to clear up events that happened before I started kindergarten or in some cases before I was even born? Naturally I do not want this to be a death bed conversation, but I fear the window to address this may be closing.


The Magic Elixir

September 28, 2011

It seemed like as soon as soon as my mom was was diagnosed with a cancer more serious than my dad’s, the competition began.

My father lamented to my siblings how I would spend more time attending to my mother and taking her to doctor’s appointments. Nevermind my father’s wife was an excellent caretaker who managed all of this appointments and reports, he was still jealous.

My mother’s boyfriend was a real dud in the supportive department, not quite sure how to handle less than positive news. He discouraged her from getting an expensive private room after one surgery thinking she’d prefer to share a space with a woman allergic to flowers meaning none for my mom, hacking away one bed over. In another hospital shared room, he seemed to have spent more time chatting with the other patient and her visitor than with my mom. I’m sure it was his coping mechanism but at the time it was frustrating.

Equally aggravating was my father’s attitude about his curable caught early cancer. He’d make plans with me then bail or see if I could summon a sitter at last minute and dash uptown and cross town for a quick lunch. When I’d pass he’d count the number of lunches I shared with my mom forgetting that she would plan days in advance not only where we would eat lunch but what activities to do after the appointment.

My mom remained more positive about her life threatening cancer than my dad, rarely mentioning it and acting optimistically. Psychologically we believed she’d be okay so long as she did not exhaust all of her resources. There was some sort of magical mushroom a homeopathic doctor recommended, a sarcoma specialty hospital in Germany and one in Seattle, and this John of G-d figure in Brazil.

A reporter friend had covered a story on him and it seemed like a last case resort, but one we would explore if necessary. Unfortunately we never made it.

Fast forward two years and my father is hit with another more serious cancer. On his own he discovers the healer Juan de Dios and considers a trip to Brazil bringing up a host of conflicting feelings.

My father should get help.

It’s great that he is exploring all avenues for recovery.

I wish my mom could have visited Juan De Dios.

Why hasn’t my father reached out to my friend who reported on him several years ago?

My dad is asymptomatic; does his condition necessitate a visit to Brazil?

The healer came to the Omega Institute earlier this week and my dad had a chance to visit and be treated by Juan De Dios, an experience I am excited to hear him share. I guess I cannot avoid wondering if he will save my dad and if he could have saved my mom.

My mother’s Buddhist doctor says that we must live forward. The Christian one reminds me there are no what-ifs in medicine. The one whose religion I don’t know notes that my mom was really quite sick. And I tell myself that nobody gets out alive. Perhaps my dad’s experience wonders if I missed an opportunity to save my mom.


Dinner Crashers

July 31, 2011

I’m trying hard to keep it all in perspective. I know it’s not a big deal, and I’m sure my surging hormones are fueling my fury, but I am not happy. On my brother’s last night in town, my sister and I and our spouses organized a sibling dinner at a fancy Italian restaurant that my mom used to take us to. My sister made it extremely clear that this was our dinner and our virtual step-father was not invited.

When I greet my sister at the restaurant she hands me a camera and says Dad is showing up to take a picture. I’m livid. Why can’t he leave us alone for one dinner?? Last week he was at every dinner at our mom’s house. The night before he had us all over for Shabbas dinner. I *believe* my dad asked my sister or her husband if it’s okay and they said sure. I think it was entirely out of line. My sister has repeatedly heard me say this week and last that if she would have dinners with dad, I’d have to pass because “it was too much.” In fact I must have repeated “too much” half a dozen times in the same breath. There was no ambiguity to my feelings.

I’m sure my brother who visits one week out of the year was happy to go along with whatever. My brother in law just got into town and was in the process of kissing ass to my dad. He will have two weeks to continue the phony sycophant act without involving me. Why did he have to come this one night? Of course my dad loves being with his kids, but since when do his desires and wants trump what we want? How utterly disrespectful.

He shows up buzzed before we even finished our main course, pulls a chair up from another table with guests, and orders dessert beside us. I am livid. My mother is rolling over in her grave. I was tempted to stand up and say thank you for visiting, we will see you soon but kept my mouth shut. Perhaps my sister wonders why my needs should trump hers. And they don’t, but my feelings should be considered. Just as she walks on eggshells not to offend or upset or machisto husband, shouldn’t her pregnant sister weigh in?

My father refused to have my mom over for dinner at his house because “she would dominate the conversation” but it’s okay for him to crash our dinner and dominate the conversation? When the check arrived I even considered handing it to him, as if he wants to partake in our dinner he can afford it. I didn’t. When my husband told me at 3 am that I was right and my dad was totally ridiculous I could not go back to sleep, still fuming.

My sister knew I was upset, but I do not think she knows the extent. In fact she has not even spoken to me today. My dad called at 1:30 completely oblivious.

I know in the scope of things this is ridiculous and I should not blow it out of proportion. I’m lucky I have a dad who wants to be with his kids, but I wish he knew his boundaries and my siblings who are free from his overbearing constant presence 50 weeks out of the year, would respect that I deal with it 50 weeks out of my year.


Dusty Impatience

January 28, 2011

I’ve been talking about building a bathroom for the upper level of my apartment for so long that even I was sick of hearing about it. After meeting with nearly half a dozen architects, I was so unimpressed I assumed I’d meet with the next dozen parsing each one for an idea and then draw the plans on my own. Then I found a *fabulous* gay couple and hired them.

Picking out the tiles for a 5 by 7 bathroom is daunting. I’m not sure the last time you have gone to a tile place but the choices are overwhelming. My gay crew helped me actually make a decision after one day of visiting several tile shops, not an easy feat as I’ve been debating what type of drain to buy for at least a week.

The entire renovation process reminds me of my mom. We designed my downstairs bathroom after at least five trips to the tile stores. She loved decorating, remodeling, renovating and had definitive opinions that she would share even when unprompted. Perhaps this is why I do not trust my taste. And so I defer to my architects on everything.
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