Interrupted Connection

Posted August 9, 2005 @ 4:15pm | by S. Cutshall

Fatherson

Vertically, I've got one blood family member left in this world... My Father.  The two of us don't see eye to eye much if ever at all.  To say we don't get alone well would be an understatement.  He has ideas, I have mine... ours seldom meet.

It's that Dad/Son thing.  He wants me to be better than him, he also wants to feel like he's always got something up on me... I want him to be floored by me [what son doesn't want that?], I want him to at least acknowledge some of my achievements.  I want him to hear triumphant music rise up whenever I'm around or at least hear something when my name is uttered.  That doesn't seem to happen though.

At 41 years old, I'm still remiss in admitting that I, me, Scott... want this 73 year old pain in my ass, grey white-haired, ex-Marine, Korean War vet, did I say pain in the ass yet[?], fast shrinking man to respect me.  To be awed by his youngest son... to say something akin to, "Holy shit, that's one damn fine, amazingly accomplished son I sired".

I cannot see it ever happening.

I've precisely one moment of feeling like I had a chance as an adult with him.  In 1997 when my mom passed, my dad **actually** started asking me my thoughts and opinions.  Things like, "Scott, I was thinking about doing insert random thing here, what would you do?", actually popped out of his pie hole.  I was stunned.  I was honored.  I was pleased, proud and shocked.  I took EVERY question seriously [which I seldom do in my 'other' non-dad-asking-me-questions life] and would give each and every utterance from him my maximum consideration before responding.

Prior to this, he had never asked me a question that he didn't already know the answer to... he was either exasperated with me, teaching me some grand life lesson, drilling me, dressing me down, being condescending or asking me a question as a setup to nailing me to the cross of human faultiness.  This, however, was very different and very weird for me.

New terrain.  Unfamiliar and uncharted territory, and yet profoundly right feeling and correct.  I was after all 34 years old and had some life lessons and experiences that may have been [definitely were!] different than his life course.

And life being full of the occasional rich surprise... this lasted 12 whole months.  For precisely 12 months he kept asking me questions: "what would you do's; why is that's; how can I's; I wanted to find out what your thoughts were's" & more... it was an oasis in what had otherwise been 34 years of mostly dry breasted lessons in practicality and the banalities of cookie-cutter living.

And then like going back to the all-you-can-eat buffet at Chi-Chi's one too many times, it was gone and I was left sitting on the mythical porcelain throne to ponder my empty kingdom and irritated bowel.

What seemed like a dream had, in fact, become just that again... a dream.  It was over.  Dad had gone back, not gradually mind you or even somewhat quickly, but full blown lightswitch-clicked-from-on-to-off in one fell swoop, to not asking questions.  Where Question Marks had bookended his sentences like really great foamed soy milk in hot ebony coffee, all that was left were Periods, Exclamation Points and sarcastically placed hurtful fish hooks with dots underneath [????].

What had I done?  What question did I mis-answer so badly, so poorly that I lost him?  Where did I go astray?

To this day I have no answer.

I never asked him and he's too busy being himself to answer or even ponder the differences... if he even ever noticed in the first place.

It may be better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all... or the same with bread and losing it.  I don't know and won't imply that I do.

But for one year I made my dad proud in my estimate.  I was old enough to know it, to recognize it... to know its value and worth.  He was dazzled with my answers and often said he would have never thought of such an approach or course to solving this or that issue.  I tasted what I often have read about in books and seen in movies.  It can happen.

It was real and I'll never forget it.

At this point in 2005 him and I are so out of sync that the only thing we can agree on is that all our correspondence should be via handwritten letters mailed through the USPS.  7 months into this year and we've talked [via ink, paper, envelope and stamp] precisely 1 time each.

It's sad, and I cannot get away from the feeling that it reflects worse on me than him.

 
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