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.