2013-06-17

My Dad: Why I'm Weird

I thought about writing a piece on my Dad, this is the first Father’s Day since he died November, 2012. Long story short, he was in a horrible car accident and never recovered. Don’t worry, this is not a long, sad tear-jerker. Ain’t nobody got time for that. 

I definitely don't have much time for writing. I just wanted to quickly write something about the tumultuous relationships fathers and daughters can have, not just for my own sense of peace but to tell people how I got over our differences and was happy with how it all played out. On Father’s Day, and Mother’s Day and any of these holidays, social media can be REALLY ANNOYING if you don’t have that picture-perfect Dad everyone is bragging about.

Not getting along with my dad as a young adult really stressed me out. I felt like he started it. Among other things, he said mean things. He compared me to my sisters, making me feel like less of a person because I am not just like them, and I just wanted to scream. Those kinds of comments really pissed me and my brother off, to no end. How could we be like them? We didn’t get the parents or the life they had. How is that our fault?

We got along famously when I was younger, not as well as I got older. It’s easy to be a good parent to young kids, they’re adorable and they don’t have their own sense of the world, or their own beliefs yet. They believe what you tell them, they hate what you hate, when you tell them to go to their room, they have to go.

When kids get to that teen stage, get their own ideas and even test the waters and push you to the limits of your patience? That is the true measure of a good parent. How patient are you with the people you love, despite your own human faults? How much do you support your children’s beliefs that are very different than yours? This is where the rubber meets the road in terms of parenting. I really understand this now that MY son is 17, he is going his own way, and pushing his limits as far as he can.

Putting all the typical teenage stuff aside, my son has different beliefs than I have. I will learn from my dad, I will try to be OKAY with the differences. I refuse to make him feel like less of a person if he does not believe everything that I believe.

It’s easy to love someone and be supportive of someone who has all the same ideas you do. It’s harder to say “I think you are crazy for being a ______________* but I love you anyway.” 
(*insert your different life choices here:  vegetarian, Democrat, atheist, gay, Sox fan vs. Cub fan ….. you get the idea) 

My dad was a lot of things, most of them very different than I am now, and as I grew into a teen and an adult, we would have debates/arguments about a LOT of things. Most of the times we had to just either agreeing to disagree, or I would just shake my head and remind myself he was raised decades before I was, in a different, less progressive part of the country, by a very mean man from the stories I hear.

My dad was an old-fashioned Roman Catholic, staunch Republican, he was raised to believe certain truths, they were pounded into his head. My mother is a much more modern-thinking, bleeding heart liberal democrat. Yeah, opposites attract. Their constant arguing was legend….wait for it….dary. Legendary. I don’t have the intestinal fortitude to go into it right now, the fallout from their famous fights, but it’s the reason why I HATE arguing. The point I’m trying to make is their differences gave me TWO good looks at a lot of things in the world.

I can accept differences in people, some things I really do NOT understand and never will, (like racism or pure hate of any kind without knowing people personally for example,) but because of the way I grew up, I try not to bash people or judge them for what they believe. I cannot support anyone who spreads hate, but I can say to myself,

‘There is a REASON this person feels this way.
Can I learn anything from this person’s very different point of view?
Can I offer a different view to them possibly?”

Our beliefs are put there by our parents, our teachers, our life experiences. We all have DIFFERENT experiences, some good and some bad. We should all learn from each other and talk about WHY we feel the way we do. Maybe we have good reasons, maybe we don’t. Maybe no one ever made us explain why we feel this way, and once we say it out loud we realize how ridiculous it is to hate someone just because they are different than we are.

That is one thing I’m grateful for with my father. We were different people, but we learned eventually to get along, family comes first, no matter how different you are.

The most important thing my father taught me is this:
You don’t have to always agree with someone, to LOVE them.

This is everything. 

Sometimes this is hard to do. Once you get this down, relationships become a lot easier. Everyone is different, has different opinions, beliefs, things they hold dear, and that is okay. Embrace your differences, discuss them calmly, explain and LISTEN to their explanations, and if all you can do is agree to disagree? That is okay, too. Love is all you need.

We never agreed on everything, we never “sat down and talked it out” but I wanted my son to know his grandfather (even though he told us he would never watch my son because he was *gasp* hyper! Hhmm, sound familiar most hyper man in the world?) At family parties, or whenever my dad came in town, I took my son to see him. We didn't spend our time arguing, yes there were indeed TONS of very sarcastic comments you'll be shocked to hear. 

For the most part, we talked, laughed, joked, hugged, kissed, DRANK, we played poker wherein you did NOT bet out of turn, and 
you did NOT EVER check the bet and then raise the bet (I will not tell you the old timey slur he used for this move,) and 
you PLAYED what you CALLED, not what you HAD.  
Important life lessons from my father. 

We talked about family matters, and we LOVED each other, and I am glad we did.

I would never want to think how badly I would feel if my son didn’t know him, or he had passed away and we never got past the bad times. He said some mean things to me in my life, as a teen and young adult, some of them really cut. I never made him apologize, I just forgot about them.

For one thing, I was never going to be the person he wanted me to be. Once you give up trying to make someone else proud and really start making steps to make yourself proud? It’s a giant weight lifted. Other people will come around, or they won’t, it is YOUR own opinion that matters.

If you lay awake at night thinking (as I used to) ‘I could have handled that better’ or ‘I could have tried harder’ then the next morning? Start taking steps to be better. Some things took me a long time to be better about, but I felt better knowing I was on the right path.

It took me years to realize, you can’t please everyone, so why beat yourself up? If someone else can’t recognize the good in you, just make sure you see it yourself. That is all that matters at the end of the day. I just told myself if he can’t see the good, it’s HIS oversight. He’s a human and he’s flawed like all of us. I have made plenty of mistakes, everyone does. I won’t make his mistakes, I will learn from them.

I know he felt more guilt about things than he would ever let on about, he had to live with that. Remember that if you are at odds with a parent, or anyone I guess. Maybe they said some things they shouldn’t have said, maybe they DID some things they shouldn’t have done. Things YOU would NEVER DO. They are still human. They are flesh and bone, and flawed as we all are. 

Just try to let the negative go. In some cases this may not be possible, but if you can, you may feel a lot better.

We have all made mistakes, some worse than others, but you can’t know what it’s like to be someone else, walk in their shoes, live through everything they have lived through. The good, the bad, the pain, the “I cannot stand this for ONE MORE SECOND” type experiences.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Think about what YOU want to accomplish in life, and put yourself on a path to get there. Even if it takes years, follow your own bliss. Your happiness will shine through, people will start to see that.

My son will never know all the negative parts of my relationship with my father. I told him a few things when he asked, but basically he just remembers a funny old fart with a million corny jokes. 

That is another thing my father passed down, in case you’re wondering where I got it, a million corny jokes and the uncontrollable urge to say them. Whatever else my obnoxious father was, he was funny. 

He made people smile and laugh wherever he went. People wanted to be around him, even if they didn't agree with his life views, they wanted to be entertained by him. He was not the kind of man you would imagine having a lot of confidence, he wasn't tall or college educated. He always had a blue collar, back-breaking physical job, and because he worked in printing, he didn't even have all of his fingers. No matter the job, he always gave every job 100%. He told me to work every job like my family owned the company. This is how he operated. He never stood still. 

Example: When a press broke down, instead of standing around until it was fixed, he would sweep the floor, or clean the kitchen, anything productive. People did appreciate that work ethic in him, and in me at every job I have ever had.

I went to work with him for a whole week and it gave me another view of him. It also made me stay in school, it was over 100 degrees in that place and they worked their fingers to the bone for over 8 hours a day, for not a lot of money! Their days were made better by laughing with or at him. When he was a volunteer firefighter, everyone wanted him at THEIR station. He was funny and he would bring snacks. Everyone seemed to love him. 

His crazy sense of humor has definitely been passed down. It’s contagious, I tell you. I made fun of him for his lines like:
“Oh you’re foot fell asleep? Now it’ll be up all night.”

The next thing you know, you find yourself saying it to someone. Then that person makes fun of you, and you hear THEM saying it. It’s like personality herpes. I passed it on to my son, my husband, and it looks like my girls will have it too. Hopefully that will be a good thing. Corny jokes have gotten me through a lot of stress. 

Humor is my defense mechanism, my “break the ice” tactic when I feel socially awakward, my soul’s duct tape, my personality herpes. Sometimes it’s a good thing, sometimes inappropriate. Okay, fine, a LOT of the time it is inappropriate. It’s just who I am. We got it from my dad. My whole family is funny and weird. There are so many funny family stories, I hope I remember them all. I hope I can write them all well enough to share.

This was my dad. This is why I’m weird.

I'm seeing a LOT of booze bottles on this table. Just sayin.

I had to make an update, and when I re-read I realized how awkward my un-funny posts make me feel. 

I posted this on my ComfyTown Facebook page on Father's Day. 

It has nothing to do with this post, or anything, it's just a Father's Day funny. I think my old man would have found it funny.




29 comments:

  1. This an absolutely beautiful post. Your love for your father despite the past issues and differences really comes through.

    I can relate to the very delicate nature of a teenage daughter and a staunch stuck in his ways right wing nut father. =)

    I am thankful everyday that dad and I were able to mend our fences and become close again after years of being very far apart.

    Thanks for the wonderful reminders.

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    1. Thank you so much for saying that! I always have an inner *cringe* when I have to write something serious.
      I did love him, I am glad that came through. At the end of the day, LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED. Right?
      I'm so glad you came back together with your dad, too. Not everyone gets that chance!

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  2. Awesome post. I absolutely loved it, especially as a gay vegetarian atheist Democrat Sox fan.

    Really though, my parents always wanted me to be a priest or a chef when I was younger. They were so disappointed when I wanted to be a penniless writer. And then, a few months ago, my dad laughed and said, "Okay, so maybe you turned out okay, and maybe if you had gone toward one of those other paths things would have been pretty terrible." It's not the greatest admission, but I'll take it.

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    1. Hey, that's pretty great. And obviously more than I'll ever get! I'm so glad you didn't become a priest or a chef, unless of course you still would have been a penniless blogger and book writer on the side. My Mondays are so much happier with a A Beer For The Shower and also when you post on your blog.

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  3. Ambivalent, bittersweet memories about Dad -- oh, I know them well. I suspect many, if not most people, have them, if they're being honest about things. Great post!

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  4. This was absolutely beautiful! How great that you were able to make peace with an imperfect parent (and really, aren't we all?! I chose not to dwell on the mega arguments my dad and I had during high school...but yea) and better yet - work on making yourself a better person, and allowing your son to see this, and get some of the positives from his grandpa. Bravo, my dear.

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    1. Thank you for saying that. At times it was hard, and some things are much easier to understand when you have kids :)

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  5. Your "personality herpes". Ha! It's mine, too. So many truths in here. I enjoyed.

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  6. It's to read about someone else who had a father who wasn't the "perfect" dad, but you loved him anyway. Thanks for sharing.


    Tamara

    http://penpaperpad.com

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    1. Thanks, and I know what you mean. I love to see people happy and enjoying their family, but sometimes those "Aren't we all just SO PERFECT" posts get a little...I dunno. :)

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  7. Thanks for sharing this :)

    And very, very true. I think we all have imperfect parents, and we learn to love them for who they are. And it's important for parents to give their kids chances to be themselves and make their own life choices, otherwise the kids end up feeling very isolated.

    My parents are also always at the opposite end of any argument. Seriously, take any issue, and they would completely disagree on which side to be on. Most of it is silly things, so it's quite funny sometimes.

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  8. I hear you. Sometimes it was hard to believe my old man and I were the same species :) but "it takes all kinds."

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  9. I think my mom and I had a similar relationship to you and your dad. I loved her, but man she was difficult, and we had a hard time understanding each other. But now that she's been gone for 10 years, I don't have any negative feelings for her. She was messed up, but she did her best.

    I'm sorry you lost your dad so recently. No matter the relationship, it's not easy.

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    1. It's nice you have no negative feelings. Some people spend tons of time and money in therapy to get to that point :)
      True. The finality of closure, a necessary human step. I didn't understand funerals when I was younger, why we have them when everyone hates them, and I had to explain them to my son, knowing exactly what he meant. Necessary part of the circle.
      Thanks for coming by!

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  10. This is such a great post. I am sorry to hear about your Dads passing but what a beautigul and HONEST way to send him a hello on father's Day. Here from Thumping Thursday's.

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    1. Thank you, I'm so glad you liked it. And so glad you came by!

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  11. What a great post you've got here. It was so heartfelt and transparent, I loved it!

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    1. I'm going to take transparent as a compliment ;) soooo, thank you!

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  12. Love the photo of your dad. Yes, holidays can be hard when you don't have that picture perfect relationship with family members, but it's nice how you can also see the good in your dad. Also like the last little image - so true.

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    1. ha, thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  13. Great post! Thanks for linking up and sharing with us @ the Tattler Thursday Blog Hop. (ImNoHumdrum-Mum : Co-Hostess.)

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  14. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your Father.

    What a lovely post and how great that you have so many fond memories of your Father. He lives on.

    I'm a new follower of yours via BlogLovin. I'd love it if you linked up to my weekly BlogLovin Hop (http://www.journeysofthezoo.com/search/label/BlogLovin%20Hop).

    Looking forward to connecting further.

    Besos, Sarah
    Blogger at Journeys of The Zoo
    BlogLovin: http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/4064788/journeys-of-the-zoo

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    1. I would love to join your hop, will follow you on Blog Lovin right now, before I forget! ;)

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  15. I came to you via the Ten Things of Thankful hop, but this post caught my eye instead! My TToT post is about my father, who is still alive but facing death. Like you, my relationship with my father wasn't so great when I was an adolescent, but we found our way to love again.

    I totally agree with what you say "you can’t know what it’s like to be someone else, walk in their shoes, live through everything they have lived through." I didn't appreciate this when I was young, but I definitely get it now.

    This is a lovely, heartfelt tribute to your father.

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear about your father. I'm sure you are relieved that your relationship is better, that is so important.
      I'm glad you enjoyed this. I hope your father's journey is always peaceful, and you can find peace as well.

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  16. This is a wonderful post and well said. I also had my ups and downs with my dad. Still do as we butt heads over many subjects. Yet, we are closer now that we are older. Sorry to hear you lost yours not too long ago.

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