I was looking through my older blog posts on MySpace, and ran across this one, posted April 22, 2009. I thought I’d run it again, here.
Every once in a while, something will happen that reminds me that I am my father’s son.
At times, it’s disconcerting as hell, other times it’s a nuisance, and sometimes it’s just amusing. I had an experience this morning that I’m not sure about, since it’s several hours later as I write this blog, and I’m still thinking about it.
The most common experience that makes me think of him is when I cough. I make the exact same sounds as he did, and those are the sometimes disconcerting moments. He was a heavy smoker all his life, and eventually died of throat and lung cancer. I, however, have never smoked, and haven’t been around a smoker since I moved out of his house. Some of the family from his side also have the same cough, and many of them were or are heavy smokers. I’m hoping the common sound is related to the structure of our genetically similar bodies, and not due to some other trait we all share that has contributed the deaths of many of my relatives.
I sometimes do things, that once I recognize them, I find amusing. I’ll notice that I’m walking with a gait that resembles his, and I wonder…. am I unconsciously being a little boy, and copying my Dad? Or does that style of moving have more to do with me having a body that is a very close structural copy of his? I’ll notice I’m sitting in a position that he sometimes sat in, and again I wonder. Is it just the long legs and no padding on the butt that results in this orientation, or something else? I had a bad case of hero worship when I was a child, and desperately wanted his approval. I wonder if sometimes that little boy sneaks out of some deep corner of my memory, and still wants Daddy’s attention?
I long ago recognized his faults, and he had many, and reconciled myself to the understanding that he was who and what he was, and he wasn’t willing or able to change. At a point in my mid-to-late 30’s, I realized the he recognized me as an adult, with some wisdom and intelligence. That was a watershed realization for me, since I had long believed that he didn’t really think all that highly of me. Once it dawned on me that my parents were looking to me for advice and help, I started thinking of myself as an adult. It also was the time I started seeing them as real people, who had flaws just like everyone else.
Towards the end of his life, we came to an unspoken understanding about our relationship. I would do whatever he needed me to do in regards to his medical problems. I would drive him to the VA hospitals in Fresno or Palo Alto as required, putting up with his smoking during the 3-4 hour drives up and back. I’d occasionally tell him a dirty joke I’d run across on the internet, or complain about the government bureaucracy that I deal with in my job. He would occasionally tell me a story about his past, but most of the time we rode in silence. I thought at the beginning of the 8 years of this that it was a great opportunity for us to get to know each other better, but that didn’t really happen. His part of the understanding seemed to be that he would treat me as an adult worthy of both his respect and consideration. We had some fun discussions about politics, always taking oposite sides, and I would complain everytime I was at his house and he was watching Fox. I never told him I was gay, although I did tell him some stories about friends and various trips we took to San Francisco Pride. If he knew or suspected, he never said. My mother says he never mentioned it to her, either. We don’t know if he just didn’t know, or if he did and just didn’t want to tell her. (she knew some years ago) I don’t know if he just didn’t want to talk about it, or if he was oblivious to the obvious.
The middle of this blog grew a bit bigger than I had originally intended. This started out to be a short blog about something that happened this morning, and look what it grew into!
Anyway, here’s what happened this morning, when my father visited me.
I was sitting in Denny’s just after 2am, waiting for a take out order to be prepared. I was sitting on a couch near the cash register when I glanced out the window. With the position I was sitting in, and the lighting inside and outside casting shadows on me and the glass, for a split second, I didn’t see my own reflection. I saw him sitting there looking back at me. That was one of those instants of eternity, where no more than a moment goes by, but when time also stops.
I suspect I’ll have more of those moments as I get older. I’ll let you know.