Tag Archives: parents

A letter from my father

I’ve written many times about how tough my relationship with Danny, my father, can be. I’ve told stories of his anger and distance when I was young, and of his anger and distance now that I’m an adult.

I wonder what he truly feels. I used to never know that he actually loved me. I used to never know that I was loved.

And then I find this letter that he sent to me the Thanksgiving after my first child was born (with a packet of letters I had written to him over the years):

    Daughty-san

    I thought you’d like to see these letters, both for the sweetness in them and for the insight they give you into a young girl’s mind. I know that you were once one (and still, in many ways, are), but that’s primarily the past, and sooner than you can imagine or believe, your child will be older. If only you had dated them.

    One recurrent theme in all of the letters is your fear that I will tease you for showing your love… I guess my own fear of showing emotion and the consequent vulnerability is stronger than I realize… But then again, as I pointed out to you recently, if I were not secure in my love for you, and yours for me, I would not feel free to play with it – hence the salutation.

    Many years ago, you asked me if I had to do it over again would I have children. What a ballsy question that was from a young and, as you can see from these letters, insecure girl. Ballsy questions deserve honest answers, and then, at least, I did not tease you. I didn’t know, I told you, because I had never not had children. I was still a child when you kids were born. However, I pointed out, no one had ever offered me anything that I would have traded you in for. You were then and remain now, just about the best thing that ever happened to me – although now there is your child to give you competition.

    I may not be much for ritual, or tradition, or holidays, but you should know that, this being thanksgiving, you are what I give thanks for.

    Lots of love and thanks,
    Daddy-san

    a.k.a Grumpa, King Kong, and D. D. of the D. (Daring Dan of the Deep)

I am always amazed when I realize his love for me. I am always validated when he realizes he doesn’t often show it. He calls out my insecurity, and doesn’t get that his teasing probably helped that blossom and grow. It’s all very interesting.

I am thankful for these letters, and I’m thankful for this love. I hold it dear, especially now that it’s so tough for him and for us.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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You can’t always get what you want

Someone I love dearly and deeply is working through a personal challenge. They’ve recently realized that they very rarely, if ever, ask for what they want. Or maybe they knew that they very rarely, if ever, asked for what they wanted, but they’ve recently realized that they can ask for what they want. That they, in fact, have to.

It doesn’t matter which was their gap and which was their realization. What matters is that they start asking. And asking. And asking.

So we started singing a song, a bunch of us. Quoting The Stones – “You can’t always get what you want” – and adding our own twist – “But you have to articulate it!” – as a reminder.

Because you have to articulate it. They do. I do. We all do. First we have to figure out what we want, and then we have to take the chance and say it out loud.

Years ago one of my spiritual guides told me that I couldn’t expect someone to give me what I wanted or needed if I never told them what I wanted or needed. I too had learned – or taught myself – to keep my needs and wants hidden, sometimes even to myself. I’m sure I still do at times.

It was a revelation that my “guide” gave me. “You mean, I can’t expect him not to say that to me if I don’t ask him not to say that to me?” I remember asking. “Yes,” she answered. “It’s that simple. Tell him what you want and need.” We were talking about my father and his special nickname for me, slut.

I did ask him. He did stop. But that’s another story.

You can’t always get what you want, but you can get it a lot of the times. If you ask. If you articulate it. Even if you’re scared. Or you just don’t realize you can.

You have to articulate it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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Thank god for my compassion

I spoke with my dad, Danny, today. As many of you know, he’s in a nursing home, and too young to be in a nursing home. And as many of you know, he’s basically a pain to be around. He’s (understandably) cranky and cantankerous. He’s (as always) inappropriate and exasperating. He’s (justifiably) self-centered and self-focused.

Conversations with him are not fun.

Visiting him is generally not fun. Taking care of him is generally not fun. My oldest child says it’s easy, but also admits there’s no past baggage creeping up into the relationship. Years ago, when Danny first had his stroke, my mother-in-law commented that I had to take care of him. When she read the draft of my book, she commented that I didn’t.

In many ways I don’t owe Danny anything. Yes, he is my father, and yes, he took us in when my mother left. But living with him was never easy and he was never easy. He still isn’t easy. But as I explained to someone recently, I wouldn’t be okay if I didn’t try whatever I could to make his life a little better.

I am blessed with compassion.

I could be so filled with anger at Danny from all the past harms that I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, be willing to have a relationship with him now. I could be defined by my past and living in the scars of what happened, and feel, or be, too wounded to maintain my equilibrium around him. He requires a certain sort of boundary, a sense of having my guard slightly up at all times. I never really know when he’ll scream and curse at the attendants in the nursing home. Or at me. I know his life is sad and painful and that at times it erupts out of him, but he never really had impulse control before the stroke, and the stroke affected the impulse-control portion of his brain. In order to be safe around Danny, I need an internal (and sometimes external) shield, and to be on alert.

I am graced with the ability to do this.

I am grateful for my compassion, and for the buffer I can put between him and me, because this allows me to be with him. To take care of him. To ease the sting when he’s brusque or unappreciative. To enjoy him and our relationship as much as I can.

Thank god for my compassion.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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