I posted last week about my Dad and his surgery and said that, while I love my Dad, I also like him. That may seem odd, but I know people who love their parents, or siblings, or, well, even their spouses, but don't actually like them.
I like my Dad ... but that wasn't always the case.
My father joined the Air Force out of high school and within a few years he was sent to England where he was stationed for a while; it was there that he met a young woman, the daughter of a Colonel, who would become his wife and my mother.
After Dad and Mom married, and after my sister was born, Dad was reassigned from England to Mississippi ... talk about culture shock! But, something good came out of that assignment ... me! I was born in Mississippi and a few months later Dad was being sent to California, so we loaded up the car and Dad and Mom pulled a forty-foot red-and-white trailer from the Gulf Coast to the Golden State where my Dad changed things up ...
Since he had a wife and two children he wasn't so keen on the constant moving required of military families so he arranged for something different; he asked for, and received, the chance to stay in California, keeping his family in the same house, his kids, including my brother who was born in California, attending the same schools and having the same friends. My Dad would go TDY... Temporary Duty ... for several months at a time, but the family would stay in one place.
It was a nice thing for my Dad to do for his family, but ... he was away a lot and as a wee lad I missed him very much. And so I remember crying sometimes at night because my Dad wasn't home and my Mother comforting me; sure we would send messages ... tape recorded ones because this was way back in the last century ... but I missed my Dad and sometimes it hit me hard, especially at night.
But he did come home, and he did retire from the Air Force and so he was around more and naturally I began to resent him for that though I didn’t know why at the time.
I remember being a Senior in high school and a group of friends and I wanted to go to Disneyland on a break and at the dinner table one night I asked my Mother if I could go; I explained all the details, the flight, the hotel, who was going, where we were staying ... and asked, again, if I could go.
My Mom said, "Ask your Dad."
I replied, "Can you ask him?"
My Father was sitting at the table with us.
Yes, I acted as though he wasn't even there; it still breaks my heart to think that I did that.
"You ask him."
Years later, after I'd allegedly grown-up, and moved out of the house, I was talking with friends and telling both these stories and a friend suggested that the reason for the second story, and why I maybe didn't like my Dad so much was because I was so angry for him leaving me as a child and going on TDY.
Wow; that hurt ... because it rang true.
The next morning I called my parent's house and when Mom answered I asked to speak to my Dad; my Mom asked what was wrong because, you know, I wanted to talk to my Dad so it must be bad. But Dad got on the phone and I said I was coming up to talk ... they lived about an hour-and-a-half from me ... and would he be home.
He said he would, and so in a couple of hours I was at their house. My Mom looked pale and nervous when I said I needed to talk to Dad first, and alone. He and I went outside and after some stammering and stalling I finally told him about my memories ... crying that he wasn't home and how, somehow, I held onto those memories and it turned into a dislike for him, and the feeling that maybe he might not be there for me when I needed so I wouldn't get too close.
I won't go into the whole conversation but we talked and talked and we apologized, me for being a brat and kind of nasty toward him, and he apologized for, yes, doing his job ... something that needed no apology. He’d done what he thought was best for his family and, still, that hurt one of his children.
But our relationship changed on a dime that day; I had always loved my Dad because he was my dad and he was, and is, a great one, but on that day I finally came to like my Dad.
Thanks for listening ...