Friday, March 10, 2006


What is your relationship with your father?

I never really talk about my father. A lot of people have even asked me if he was alive because of it. Well he is. I just feel weird about him. Actually, I don't normally talk about him at all. Well I'm going to do it today. I think I got to get this out. I'm not really looking for any advice on this I just wanted to get it out.

My father was in the Military so he was not around a lot when I was growing up. He could be gone for a year or 2 at a time. When I was a young kid I was always very excited when he came home. I think it was because he would always bring us gifts from foreign countries. I remember when I was about 9 years old I wanted to be an Indian. I just loved Indians, I don't remember why now...I think it was the headdress. When I saw Indians in headdress they seemed so regal. I guess that's the Leo in me talking even at that age.

Anyway, as I got older I believe that I needed a little more attention from my father other than the gifts that he bestowed on me as a young child. I didn't need the gifts and they stopped anyway after a certain age. We moved to California as my journey into adolescence began. I had 3 brothers, the closest one in age to me was 4 years older and not really trying to hang out with me. So in a way I felt like an only child except for those times when I felt like playing with my younger sister.

So basically I didn't really have an openly communicative relationship with my father. It was more of an authoritarian one. Do this do that. Not many words came from him. The funny thing about it is that he thought, I'm sure, that he was a good father. Not to me if your not really talking or hearing your child.

As a high schooler I was pretty good in track and ran in school track meets and even in the Junior Olympics. I ran the 100 and 200. I went to the Olympics in the 100. The 1st track meet that my father had ever attended was when I made it to the semi-finals. I had gotten 1st place in my qualifying heats. So I was pretty confident that I would be going to the finals as well.

I was in my blocks and as the gun shot to push us all into motion. To my surprise my block slipped as it was not completely locked in place. I actually fell to my knee coming out of the block. I even turned to look at the starter thinking he was going to shoot the gun again to start the race over, but he didn't. So I got up and began running like the wind. I was able to catch up to all of the other runners except the 1st 2. Meaning I landed in 3rd place. 3rd place was not good enough they were only taking 1st and 2nd to the finals of the Olympics.

As I'm sure you can imagine I was furious, that I had not checked double checked my blocks. As I walked over to meet up with my family. The thing that I will probably remember for the rest of my life was my father saying, "You'd be a good runner if you had some coaching."

Livid, I didn't respond. Didn't he see what just happened, if I'd be such a good runner with coaching why hadn't he ever tried to get me some. What a comment to make after seeing the disappointment all over my face are some of the thoughts that went through my mind. How dare he. What the hell did he know about me. He never talks to me.

There had been many other situations similar to this that displayed his lack of knowledge about me and my needs. The thing that makes me so uncomfortable is that now that he is aging he treats me as if we have the best relationship that any father and son could ever have. I remember once when I came home for a visit he grabbed me and hugged me. I was frozen in place, like a board. What the hell is this all about? I didn't really care, but I didn't want him touching me.

So in his oblivion he continues to treat me as if we have a great relationship. I've gotten to the point now that I really don't care what he thinks because I know my truth. What he wants to believe about our relationship is a lie.

I guess it struck me to write this because I was thinking about a Frederick Smiths father passing and the love they shared and an email my father sent recently to me and other relatives that read:

This is just a HELLO note to all of you from James and Florida (not their real names). As family members we just don't communicate as much as family members should. We love all of you and hope everything in your family is just fine in every way possible. All is fine here in California with our family, although haven't heard from D-Place, Bradford or Darius too much lately.

My only regret about my relationship with him is that it effects my mother, because I can barely stand to be around him. I don't have anything to say to him because I don't think he would understand anyway. He's extremely presumptuous and imposing. Writing imposing almost made me go into another story about him but I won't.

Some say I'll regret the way I feel when he's gone. I just don't happen to think so. I do wish that I had a better relationship with him but it is long past the time of trying to make that happen.


Don't Oppress Me said...

I have an oblivious love for my dad, but he was not the greatest father. My emotions are complicated on this subject, thanks for inspiring my next post.

ProfessorGQ said...

I like your introspective piece here. I have a strained relationship with my father. We rarely talk, and it's mainly because he was never a part of my life, and I have become accustomed to it. Somehow, I still love him, but we have this distance we are comfortable with.

Terrence said...

Interesting story, D.

Sorry to hear about Smith's father too. How unfortunate. A close friend of mine lost his father last year. Always sad when that happens.

My father was a rolling stone. Wherever he laid his hat was his home....and when he 1990....all he left us was alone.

My father wasn't around much, but I loved him. I harbored no animosity towards him whatsoever. He even apologized for not being around later in life, but I was already at peace (I smile as I think about it) with him.

He died of cancer and we had established a relationship that was cool. He sent me letters, told me how proud he was that I finished college, and that I had grown to be a responsible, respectable young man. He was sincere.

Why be angry over something I had no control? Shit happens then you die.

dugla said...

I feel you on this. But I will say, there are probably much worse Dads out there

Anonymous said...

Fathering is a difficult thing. YOur father might be in is 70s now think about it probably being in the military was the best that he could do in order for your family to have a decent life. Men of that era in particuar have a very difficult time showing emotions. I am sure he felt just as bad as you felt when you got third place. Sometimes things come out the wrong way. There is no greater joy than coaching your kids's soccer team or football. He was too busy trying to make sure you had a decent life. Yes it's hurtful but be thankful yo that your father was the sense that he still provided for you all. He is reaching out to you man....he is older now give him a chance. Have a heart to heart let him know not having you around how it affected you. My father passed away and I can't have him back there is so much I wanted to talk to him about. I felt the same way you do now but when he died apart of me has never been the same. Talk to your dad you are an adult now he is not gonna send you for the belt. This is your chance to have a relationship with him don't miss out on that. It sounds like he was being the best Father that he knew how to said you didn't want a lecture but I'm giving you one.......cause I'm your brother and I love you.