I'm OK, You're... Well... A Work In Progress

"Your belief that nothing can stop you will be tested this week by depression, procrastination, concrete barriers, dysentery, armed gunmen, and the unanimous passage of several laws targeted specifically at stopping you."

One of my earliest memories was that of my 5th birthday. It was the first time (and last) I was thrown an actual party ripe with guests, cupcakes and balloons. I was thrilled! (Or at least, I probably was... To this day, I can be completely dazzled by shadow puppets, so I wouldn't imagine it took much more to thrill me back then) My brother, who I've mentioned shares a birthday with me - or rather, I share one with him since he arrived on the planet 4 years earlier than I - headed off on an adventure with one of his dear friends (I might mention that said "adventure" alerted the good folks managing our local zoo to put a top on the enclosure of the snow leopard habitat.....) so I was able to have such a party. If memory serves me,  most of the guests were boys, so there was plenty of confusing loot out of the whole ordeal. More importantly, it was my earliest memory of what would become a long tradition in which I receive a self-help book (or audio-book) from my lovingly concerned father. Along with this early memory was the vivid image of my mother rolling her eyes upon seeing what treasure he had presented to his little (and only) girl. 


I look back upon this now with a bit of a warm, and comfortably fuzzy feeling. My father never (and still doesn't) quite knew what to make of dealing with a daughter. I'm pretty sure first and foremost was addressing this pint-sized-ball-of-drama. But how can one possibly help another if they don't actively help themselves? Throughout the years there were some really amazingly insightful books.... as well as one or two duds - or at least that's what I clearly decided based on little more than their covers and/or over-usage of puns in the titles. But I welcomed each new gift with renewed excitement and even eager anticipation. Some hit a bit too close to home and others couldn't be more foreign. Still, there was real thought and painstaking concern placed in selecting each one. 


The last such gift was received on my 21st birthday. The accompanying card contained one of his famously thoughtful hand-written novels and scrawled at the very end: "Happy 23rd Birthday, My Lovely Daughter!"  Sweet mother-of-god, he doesn't know how old I am!?

For much of my life, I fought to somehow prove myself to my father. To earn his respect. I began wondering if he saw me as a lost cause despite placing so much emphasis on my mental education. Something very profound and, until now, confusing took place when I visited him in his new home last May. Although he calls every Sunday promptly at 9am, and many of our conversations will span hours, he said something during that visit that simultaneously floored me and stung deeply. He remarked how very thankful he was to have me as such a wonderful friend. A friend. Not a daughter. To know the man, one would understand that he had carefully and intentionally selected and utilized every last word in that sentence. This is who I now was to him in my adulthood.

I spent far too long running the conversation over and over again in my head. There was no less impact each time and it would often reduce me to tears. For some reason, this morning, it simply clicked. He had relayed to me on several occasions that he never knew what he was supposed to do with a little girl. With a daughter. His youngest child and, by far, the most emotionally complex. Confusing. Foreign. Overwhelming. But he tried - I do know that in my heart. He loves me as much as any father is capable of loving. Now, in his own way, it was time to let me go. But not without having chosen those exact words, that precise sentiment. I was graduating as his daughter and was now respected enough to be his friend. 

I admire him in so many ways... for so many reasons... now I sit in a simple and wonderful state of awe. It's a pretty goddamned great feeling. I'm OK, You're OK.




6 comments:

  1. Annie, I think my shelves have more "self-help" book than anything else, but alas, I'VE purchased them myself.

    Father-daughter relationships can be complex, no doubt. But also very special. And when I read that "He remarked how very thankful he was to have me as such a wonderful friend", I immediately thought of it as a GOOD thing!

    I have a special relationship with my own dad and when I need someone, I call him. He's my "friend". To ME, that's an honor.

    Maybe it's is an honor for your dad.

    Just a thought, dear lady.

    ((Hugs))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You always have such thoughtful and wonderful replies, My Sweet! My relationship with my father is complex, to say the very least, but I think what had bothered me had to do with his avoidance of the word "friend" with my brothers and I throughout our lives. To this day, he does not use that term with either of my brothers. In my unreasonably hypersensitive brain, I was registering it all as his basically disowning me or distancing himself from me. No wonder he has such a helluva time coping with this broad! HA! But I absolutely see it as an honor now and I feel far more at peace about the entire visit, in general :)

      Delete
  2. Well, highly intelligent people are usually more introspective and hypersensitive than most. They also ruminate and fixate.

    Also, the only point of reference we have is our own. To us: we might never say "friend" about our child, but to him, your father, maybe "friend" is the ultimate compliment.

    My mother says friend about her favorite child, (it's not me) it stings the rest of us six siblings that my 2nd born sister is called her "friend" while the rest of us are her "kids."

    This may be the extent of what your father can process.

    As for my mother, she calls my sister "friend" because she enjoys her company. Something, apparently, that she doesn't with the rest of us.

    Insights, only meaningful when we consider all angles.

    Still, he sounds lovely..not perfect, but lovely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You, My Dear, are a Silver-Tongued-Devil! HA! I so wish I were highly intelligent and not just emotionally unstable and.... well... emotional!

      "Insights, only meaningful when we consider all angles.".... This is so brilliantly poignant, it almost was upsetting to read. Not because I was in the least bit offended, but because I fail to do this time and time again. Odd as it may sound, I actually jotted it down twice on two separate sticky notes - one for the office and one that shall accompany me on my journey. Thank you.

      Now onto addressing the "favorite child" part - that upsets me far deeper as it seems cruel for a parent to ever act in this manner. In the same moment, I dearly hope my dad's words to me didn't upset my "twin" brother as he was with me during that visit. No child should ever feel inferior to a sibling. Different, sure, as we all have our own individual relationships with our parents and with each other. My heart aches for the six of you who feel left out to that end.

      It seems.... No... I'm well aware I have so much more to experience and to learn and one of the first steps is to take a step outside myself and exhibit more sensitivity to others.

      Thank you so much, as always, for your comments and for coming back. It means more than I often times know how to convey.

      As for my father...He is a very lovely man. Certainly not perfect, but who is? And what fun would that be? Methinks none at all. It's the quirks which define us and make us beautiful.

      Much Love, My Friend.

      Delete
  3. Wow. So I just wandered over here, and I have to say, I am so touched by this post.

    My dad didn't know what to do with daughters either. My little sister is five and a half years younger, so he had a much easier time with her. But me? Experimental baby?

    Just like you, my dad and I have a standing Sunday phone date, for 12 years and counting. Sometimes our conversations are short and we don't know what to say, sometimes we chatter each others ears off forever.

    I am sure your dad meant it as a high compliment, and he is appreciative of you as both friend and daughter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you DID wander over here! I've found that my relationship with my father is on the unusual side as compared with most the people (male or female) I've met in my life. It wasn't that he was a macho man who could better relate to a son. Plenty of my friends had that typical daddy-daughter bond where the girl softened the dad into an adoring mess of goo.

      My father was, and still is, extremely well-educated, religious, a scientist (which I find to be amusing irony) and quite simply EVEN. Very rational, logical and...well... Zen. This little bundle of weirdness sporting blonde pigtails (my mother's idea to be sure) who thought she was a rockstar singer and all around rollercoaster of emotions guised as WonderWoman gave him a run for his money!

      Thank you so much for your wonderful response - it really is an awesome thing to find those out in the world with similar experiences!

      Delete

Kitty

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I'm OK, You're... Well... A Work In Progress

"Your belief that nothing can stop you will be tested this week by depression, procrastination, concrete barriers, dysentery, armed gunmen, and the unanimous passage of several laws targeted specifically at stopping you."

One of my earliest memories was that of my 5th birthday. It was the first time (and last) I was thrown an actual party ripe with guests, cupcakes and balloons. I was thrilled! (Or at least, I probably was... To this day, I can be completely dazzled by shadow puppets, so I wouldn't imagine it took much more to thrill me back then) My brother, who I've mentioned shares a birthday with me - or rather, I share one with him since he arrived on the planet 4 years earlier than I - headed off on an adventure with one of his dear friends (I might mention that said "adventure" alerted the good folks managing our local zoo to put a top on the enclosure of the snow leopard habitat.....) so I was able to have such a party. If memory serves me,  most of the guests were boys, so there was plenty of confusing loot out of the whole ordeal. More importantly, it was my earliest memory of what would become a long tradition in which I receive a self-help book (or audio-book) from my lovingly concerned father. Along with this early memory was the vivid image of my mother rolling her eyes upon seeing what treasure he had presented to his little (and only) girl. 


I look back upon this now with a bit of a warm, and comfortably fuzzy feeling. My father never (and still doesn't) quite knew what to make of dealing with a daughter. I'm pretty sure first and foremost was addressing this pint-sized-ball-of-drama. But how can one possibly help another if they don't actively help themselves? Throughout the years there were some really amazingly insightful books.... as well as one or two duds - or at least that's what I clearly decided based on little more than their covers and/or over-usage of puns in the titles. But I welcomed each new gift with renewed excitement and even eager anticipation. Some hit a bit too close to home and others couldn't be more foreign. Still, there was real thought and painstaking concern placed in selecting each one. 


The last such gift was received on my 21st birthday. The accompanying card contained one of his famously thoughtful hand-written novels and scrawled at the very end: "Happy 23rd Birthday, My Lovely Daughter!"  Sweet mother-of-god, he doesn't know how old I am!?

For much of my life, I fought to somehow prove myself to my father. To earn his respect. I began wondering if he saw me as a lost cause despite placing so much emphasis on my mental education. Something very profound and, until now, confusing took place when I visited him in his new home last May. Although he calls every Sunday promptly at 9am, and many of our conversations will span hours, he said something during that visit that simultaneously floored me and stung deeply. He remarked how very thankful he was to have me as such a wonderful friend. A friend. Not a daughter. To know the man, one would understand that he had carefully and intentionally selected and utilized every last word in that sentence. This is who I now was to him in my adulthood.

I spent far too long running the conversation over and over again in my head. There was no less impact each time and it would often reduce me to tears. For some reason, this morning, it simply clicked. He had relayed to me on several occasions that he never knew what he was supposed to do with a little girl. With a daughter. His youngest child and, by far, the most emotionally complex. Confusing. Foreign. Overwhelming. But he tried - I do know that in my heart. He loves me as much as any father is capable of loving. Now, in his own way, it was time to let me go. But not without having chosen those exact words, that precise sentiment. I was graduating as his daughter and was now respected enough to be his friend. 

I admire him in so many ways... for so many reasons... now I sit in a simple and wonderful state of awe. It's a pretty goddamned great feeling. I'm OK, You're OK.




6 comments:

  1. Annie, I think my shelves have more "self-help" book than anything else, but alas, I'VE purchased them myself.

    Father-daughter relationships can be complex, no doubt. But also very special. And when I read that "He remarked how very thankful he was to have me as such a wonderful friend", I immediately thought of it as a GOOD thing!

    I have a special relationship with my own dad and when I need someone, I call him. He's my "friend". To ME, that's an honor.

    Maybe it's is an honor for your dad.

    Just a thought, dear lady.

    ((Hugs))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You always have such thoughtful and wonderful replies, My Sweet! My relationship with my father is complex, to say the very least, but I think what had bothered me had to do with his avoidance of the word "friend" with my brothers and I throughout our lives. To this day, he does not use that term with either of my brothers. In my unreasonably hypersensitive brain, I was registering it all as his basically disowning me or distancing himself from me. No wonder he has such a helluva time coping with this broad! HA! But I absolutely see it as an honor now and I feel far more at peace about the entire visit, in general :)

      Delete
  2. Well, highly intelligent people are usually more introspective and hypersensitive than most. They also ruminate and fixate.

    Also, the only point of reference we have is our own. To us: we might never say "friend" about our child, but to him, your father, maybe "friend" is the ultimate compliment.

    My mother says friend about her favorite child, (it's not me) it stings the rest of us six siblings that my 2nd born sister is called her "friend" while the rest of us are her "kids."

    This may be the extent of what your father can process.

    As for my mother, she calls my sister "friend" because she enjoys her company. Something, apparently, that she doesn't with the rest of us.

    Insights, only meaningful when we consider all angles.

    Still, he sounds lovely..not perfect, but lovely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You, My Dear, are a Silver-Tongued-Devil! HA! I so wish I were highly intelligent and not just emotionally unstable and.... well... emotional!

      "Insights, only meaningful when we consider all angles.".... This is so brilliantly poignant, it almost was upsetting to read. Not because I was in the least bit offended, but because I fail to do this time and time again. Odd as it may sound, I actually jotted it down twice on two separate sticky notes - one for the office and one that shall accompany me on my journey. Thank you.

      Now onto addressing the "favorite child" part - that upsets me far deeper as it seems cruel for a parent to ever act in this manner. In the same moment, I dearly hope my dad's words to me didn't upset my "twin" brother as he was with me during that visit. No child should ever feel inferior to a sibling. Different, sure, as we all have our own individual relationships with our parents and with each other. My heart aches for the six of you who feel left out to that end.

      It seems.... No... I'm well aware I have so much more to experience and to learn and one of the first steps is to take a step outside myself and exhibit more sensitivity to others.

      Thank you so much, as always, for your comments and for coming back. It means more than I often times know how to convey.

      As for my father...He is a very lovely man. Certainly not perfect, but who is? And what fun would that be? Methinks none at all. It's the quirks which define us and make us beautiful.

      Much Love, My Friend.

      Delete
  3. Wow. So I just wandered over here, and I have to say, I am so touched by this post.

    My dad didn't know what to do with daughters either. My little sister is five and a half years younger, so he had a much easier time with her. But me? Experimental baby?

    Just like you, my dad and I have a standing Sunday phone date, for 12 years and counting. Sometimes our conversations are short and we don't know what to say, sometimes we chatter each others ears off forever.

    I am sure your dad meant it as a high compliment, and he is appreciative of you as both friend and daughter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you DID wander over here! I've found that my relationship with my father is on the unusual side as compared with most the people (male or female) I've met in my life. It wasn't that he was a macho man who could better relate to a son. Plenty of my friends had that typical daddy-daughter bond where the girl softened the dad into an adoring mess of goo.

      My father was, and still is, extremely well-educated, religious, a scientist (which I find to be amusing irony) and quite simply EVEN. Very rational, logical and...well... Zen. This little bundle of weirdness sporting blonde pigtails (my mother's idea to be sure) who thought she was a rockstar singer and all around rollercoaster of emotions guised as WonderWoman gave him a run for his money!

      Thank you so much for your wonderful response - it really is an awesome thing to find those out in the world with similar experiences!

      Delete