Monday, October 6, 2008

My father's eyes

Saturday, February 9, 2008
4:06:14 AM CST
Feeling Quiet
Hearing Eric Clapton - My father's eyes

My father's eyes

There comes a time in everyone's life when they begin to look back towards their parents in order to look within themselves.

Tonight I spent quiet a bit of time thinking about my father. Although a fleeting thought for an essay topic that was overdue because I had writer's block, the moment stuck with me asking to be discussed.

I always wondered what kind of man my father was. In comparison, my father wasn't the Ward Cleaver I had always imagined a father should be, in fact, much of his best advice was to "tough it out" or "figure it out yourself". Still, in the end, just like the rest of us, I suppose he did the best he could with what he had.

Looking back I believe my father grew up beside me rather than before me. It just seemed to me that he had never found his way; his lot in life. Sorry to say, some days I feel as if I'm standing in his shoes.

My father is, for the most part, is a very moody man. Although, I suppose that could be said of any one of us, it seemed particularly true for him. From moment to moment, you never quiet knew what he was thinking. It never took much in my younger days to watch his emotions quickly change, especially in situations where I was involved.

I can remember a time in my childhood when the economy was in dire straights. My father, who had pretty well jumped from trade to trade actually found himself in a position of unemployment. As a child, I didn't take notice to the destitute that plagued the family. Food was always on the table, the lights and cable never faltered, and the lawn got mowed just as usual every Saturday. There was never a time that my father simply mopped around the house. He seemed to utilize every available moment to home repairs and job searches.

I know my parents fought a lot about the situation, but because shouting was a normal event in my home, I never thought much of it. I guess I should have paid better attention to the people around me.

One particular day, my father had come home early from his job searching. I didn't know why, nor did it matter much to me. I was more interested in the fact that since he had gotten off early, perhaps he could take me out for an ice cream. I didn't notice the tired look in his eyes, nor the slump of his shoulders when he walked. All that mattered to me was getting out of the house and grabbing a cone at the nearby Dairy Queen. I nagged and begged my request that caught a firm "no", and resolved to spend the rest of my day feeling sorry for myself and my inability to convince him to give in.

My father wasn't much of a drinker, and come to think of it, had quit smoking shortly before my middle sister was born. There really was no outlet of stress for him other than his usual home repairs, and it had eventually occurred to me that for some reason, that day, he wasn't even tending to those.

I had concluded that I had obviously not invested enough energy in my plight of conviction. Wherever my dad was or whatever he was doing, surely he would have to hear me out. Perhaps if I used logic and common sense it would convince him that taking me for that ice cream would avoid any further tantrums from my end. I dried my crocodile tears and mustered my resolve. I was on a mission and any attempt to divert my intentions were moot.

A through search of my father's usual haunts proved useless. The house and yard certainly weren't that big. Exactly how far could he go without his vehicle to avoid my wrath? Carefully I had scanned the garage, thinking he had hidden behind discarded boxes or useless yard equipment and worked my way into the house and the basement room he had been remodeling. No where was he to be found.

I had just worked my way into the living room and had decided that he must be at the neighbor's house avoiding me, when I began to hear a faint sob, like that of a hurt child. The sound was muffled, as if the cry itself was a sin. It would start out low, like a moaning, then ascend into a wail followed by a few quick breaths seeking the sweet relief of fresh air.

I followed the cry to my parent's master bathroom. There, behind the locked door, was my father.

In the many years I had known my father, I had neither heard nor saw my father cry. Of the things I could always expect from him, the two I'd never witnessed was an apology or a cry. All at once, as if someone had lifted the gate of common sense within me, did I realize that it was I that had pushed him into this lowly state. I was the one that refused to accept the word "no" for an answer. I was the one that made him feel like a failure for his inability to service my request.

From that moment on, I have always resolved, never to ask for more than someone can give me, and always appreciate what has been given.

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