Friday, September 3, 2010

I'm learning

"Let us not look back in anger,
nor forward in fear,
but around in awareness."
James Thurber

Why do you have to leave, asked her father.
Because I've got bills to pay and responsibilities at home, she said.
Why don't you stay, he said.
I've got to take care of my dogs, she answered.
Give them away.
I love my dogs.
What you're saying is you don't love me.

Daddy, if you need me to stay, I can.
I don't NEED you to stay.

And then the pause. She waited, holding her breath. I stood in the kitchen holding mine too. Would he step up to the plate or let her down ... again? Her being the little girl in the grown woman's body who knows her Dad is dying and wants to hear him say certain things even if the chances are pretty slim he won't. After awhile the words "I Love You" can be said by rote. The child is looking for more.

The silence loomed and the words [I WANT you to stay] were never said.

I felt like I'd been punched in the gut and I was only an observer. I saw her tears. Ran to the rescue by filling the silence with explanations of how he is; but she knows. The little girl knows too. Perhaps that's the reason for the tears. Here at the end, all of us, Dad included, wanting - it feels like a need, but really it's just a hope/dream/want - to know we mean something to each other.

I think (though it does not make it better or excuse it) my father cannot say the words we want to hear. For whatever reason, he just can't. And when he gets to a place where he comes close, then he has to back away. He has to deflect it so he "messes" with us.

Now she's busy cleaning every inch of the kitchen counter. She's sad, I think. Perhaps with that old confused angry fire in her gut. I'm sad, too. And a little bit pissed.

There comes a time, I've been told, when each of us must begin to parent our inner child. We need to give the little one inside of us the things that we know (s)he needs. I wonder why that is so hard. I wonder if, when my Dad passes away, will I stop looking for validation from him, and grab hold of the concept of self-giving and and self-receiving the kind of love I really want. The kind that says, "You're okay, Baby Girl, just the way you are. I love you just the way you are. I'm proud of who you are. You are a shining star in my world. Don't be afraid, Baby Girl, I won't leave you stranded. I've got your hand right here in mine and together we can make it."

Later that same day:
Dad seemingly has no idea he ruffled any feathers. Is he that manipulative? That oblivious? That mean? It's possible the answer is yes to all those questions. I choose to believe he just doesn't get it. And .... drum roll, please, I am finally beginning to realize that that is more about him, than me. He's not going to have a miraculous moment on his deathbed and say everything his daughters have wanted to hear for the last sixty odd years. The thing for us to do (maybe I should just speak for myself) is to accept his love on his terms and know that he's doing the best he can. That's all we can really ask of others and ourselves, isn't it?

Wishing for you peaceful awarenesses,
Merry ME






7 comments:

Pamela Jones said...

When I was struggling with my adopted daughter - the one who tried to kill me - a dear friend made it feel so much better by telling me, "just because she doesn't know how to be a daughter, it doesn't mean you are not a great mother." I tell you now that just because your Dad can't be the dad you need/want him to be, it doesn't mean you are not a world-class daughter. Please tell your sister, too.

Anonymous said...

Pamela has said the words that we need to put in bold print on the refrigerator, the bathroom mirror, the underwear drawer...it doesn't mean we are not world-class daughters. lg

Tracey Catarozoli a.k.a Sally Sunshine said...

Mary Mary -- If this holds your heart to know, I used to hate my Dad. Lothe. Hard to believe when you've come to know my dad as you have (through the bakery stuff), but true.

About 15 years ago, I stopped wanting my Dad to love me how I wanted him to love me and started LETTING HIM love me how he could.

I couldn't love or adore my father more than I do now. I hope it helps you to know that your Daddy would pick any of his daughters up off that icy road and help them up the hill -- for that is the way that HE knows how to love.

Much love to all of his baby girls!!

AkasaWolfSong said...

Mary...I waited until the very last breath was drawn for my Father to speak those words of Love to me...he could not. And for years it tripped me up. Even after a Dear Friend told me he may not ever be able to say them. I know this really isn't any consolation but men from that generation were not one to show feelings and kept everything inside because to show it would mean they were weak. I knew this instinctively and yet I so needed to hear the I love you from him...the man that abused me...and finally all of these years later I've put it all to rest and realize he did what he was able to do at the time.
I believe Pam and Tracey are right...you are both world-class daughters and I know he would help you with every fiber of his being if he but could.
My prayers and thoughts remain with you and your family Dear Heart!
All My Love!

AkasaWolfSong said...

Just a note...I am reading a little book by Molly Fumia entitled Safe Passage...a book on greiving. If you can find it buy it!

Just now this struck a chord with me for You and Your Sister...

"Rest assured that in her dying, in her flight through darkness toward a new light, she held you in her arms and carried your closeness with her. And when she arrived at God, your image was imprinted on her joy-filled soul."

You can just paraphrase it with male gender.

Walking with you Mary...

Fire Byrd said...

Men and women are made differently. men work with the spoken word, women work intuiatively. If you want a man to understand what you want then ask clearly. Cause they are not delibrately hurting you they just operate as men who don't see the point of feelings, in the way we do. Especially tough men who've fought wars, they cannot allow emotional stuff in, it goes against their training and would make them weak on the battle field. What matters is that your Dad does love you and your siblings but on his terms NOT yours.

paradox said...

Oh my gosh, Mary, I want to pick you up (little you) and hug and tell you how wonderful you are. But that's not always what feels good, right? when you have someone you love and want to hear it specifically from them.
It was a huge moment for me...when I picked up my river stone that said "My Papi loves me"...and knew that I meant it...that I knew it...regardless of how he is. And then he visited this weekend and I forgot about that stone. I didn't him to buy me anything (that's his M.O.). I just wanted him to love my everything. So I put the "My Papi loves me" stone back on my plate.