The Sins of The Son

Posted October 19, 2015 @ 12:45am | by S. Cutshall

My dad died.

18 years ago my mom died.

On May 17th of this year I became an orphan. A 51 (now, as of 9/22/15, a 52) year old orphan. And it's weird. Odd. Off-putting. Reality inducing. Cryptic. Bittersweet. Occasionally tear-filled, wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night "Holy Shit" startling tear-filled, and the filling is mostly filled with oozing regret.

I always loved my dad but it took his death to realize how much. And now it's too late. Yes, it's probably very much a human condition type quandary kind of thing to realize all this, it's also probably very well-worn ground, but I am neither smart enough nor well read enough to know or have many anecdotes from great beloved classic tomes to lean on... so it is all pretty new and rather alarming to me.

So here goes:

I should have called more.

I should have returned more calls, more.

I should have visited more (and stayed there longer while visiting).

I should have let him in more.

Shared more.

Loved and openly fought more with him (and his frequent world/societal views which so deeply pissed me off and offended my very core).

I should have written more...

I should have truly shown him who and what I am and have become (I think, quite possibly, he might have approved but I could be wrong enough that it still feels safer to have had him seen only the pre-approved veneer of "Scott, my youngest son").

He was a tough, resilient, annoying, scared, judgmental, hypocritical, extraordinarily judgmental, occasional racist, sometimes bigoted, stressed, loving, concerned, ultra-responsible, anal, worried, ex-Marine, veteran of the Korean conflict, melancholy, semi-OCD'd, overtly precise, snap tempered, man... and he gave me -or at least tried his level best to- some, all and none of the above. And I will be goddamned if we didn't fight, and a lot at that. Especially during my Teens and 20's. Tooth and fucking nail. And like I have read about, the little bit of reading I can claim to have under my intellectual belt, now that he's gone all the worst stuff is fading away, off into the lowering western sunset, while -yes, you guessed it- only the good things seem possible to see, recall, purge forth and mediate on.

Damn him.

It would be so much easier, this grieving crap, if I could only focus on all the noise, static and anger of my darkest history between us.

I recall two, jesus just two, moments when I had 101% documented proof that he was ever truly proud of me but maybe some sons only get one or less from their hard-as-nails dads.

1982, the year I graduated high school and also began a joke of a run in college, I was marching in DCI (drum corps international for the uninformed... think, really high end marching bands that you pay to be in, tour the country, bake in the blazing sun, get screamed at, practice all day and do one show a night, go to a world championship and try to make the top 12 or better, end up on national TV, come home ruthlessly exhausted & tanned, have amazingly fluid drum chops (technique) and pay out of pocket for the whole experience~sorry already said that one) and my mom casually mentioned to me upon my return home from tour after the championships up in Montreal, Canada's Olympic stadium, "He took it down before you came home but I thought you should know, your dad built this kind of mini-shrine to you while you were away on tour this Summer." I must have looked equally confused and shocked because she then added, "Yes, it was on the hutch in the dining room. A picture of you, various souvenirs from the Crossmen (the name of the corps I was with that year), some t-shirts, a key chain and patches." I remember being less impressed than thinking to myself, "Was it because he missed me, was proud of me... naw, it had to be a kind of makeshift totem alter wishing me dead." Never once did it even enter the furthest recesses of my mind that MY dad could, on any level, be proud of anything I was doing, had done or would ever do. I just kind of walked away thinking that my mom saw something in me that sparked a need within to lie to me. However a week or so later she opened a Kodak envelope and produced a color photo she had taken of the whole affair with her Canon 35mm camera. I stood corrected.

And then, 2011... 

My story, the fat guy who got small on a bicycle one, broke first in Minneapolis and then got picked up internationally by Bicycling Magazine and he found out about that. He told me over the phone one rainy day in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland, Oregon (where we resided at that time) "Scotty," he would from time to time call me that name--a dusty and fading remnant of my childhood, "I just received a number of copies of this magazine called Bicycling Magazine and well, I am just so impressed and proud of this." I remember leaning against our kitchen counter some 2500 miles west of my hometown in Pennsylvania and feeling some mix of pride, embarrassment and lightheaded when he then added, "How much did you get paid for talking to them?"

Boom, feeling gone.

By the end of that phone call, if I recall correctly, he left me with, "Well I am disappointed I must say. If you did this remarkable thing and told them your story for free and now they make money off it by selling their magazines with your story in it... well," I could hear one of his patented disapproving nose-snorts through the cross country fiber optics, "that's just par for the goddamn course with you. Do you really think you'll, before you're an old man, ever learn how to make a dime?"

Thanks dad, talk soon.

And that was it. Two times.

But right now, sitting here at home in Oregon City, I would give my left -fill in the blank- to have ANY conversation with the guy.

Say, "You're a complete disappointment," or "a worthless son of a bitch," or even "a lazy good for nothing person," any of it or all of it but PLEASE just say something, because... I miss you, dad.

As I go about remembering the Good Stuff, permanently sloughing off the bad, the really interesting thing is this:

He is now good, righteous even and me, well I have now become bad, unfaithful, filled with sin & deep regret,

The Un-Good Son.



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