I don’t mean it to sound like I’ve got a blood debt or something. I’m not frustrated, or begrudging of my dad. When I say I owe him, I mean it in the best way possible.
On his own, my dad managed to make sure I got a good education with a solid understanding of what life had in store for me. He made sure that, even when I wanted to quit, do something easier, or just give up on everything, that I trucked on through. Without him, I’d be nobody.
It’s a funny relationship, to be indebted to someone to the point where you owe them so much. No matter what I do, unless I funnel every material reward of my successes, I wouldn’t even come close to paying off what I owe the man. He’d say that I don’t owe him anything, save that I do my part and help him out when he needs it. He’s a pretty cool guy like that.
He’s not perfect though. Like anybody else, he has his flaws. Sometimes, he can push too hard, to the point where I ran away from him when I was still barely coming to terms with puberty. He has high expectations of everyone, a noblesse oblige where he demands that everyone put in the effort that he has, and expects everyone to go the same distance he did. Anything less is a failure unless there is a really good reason for it.
Dad is a lover of beauty: not a bad thing, really. It rubs his practicality the wrong way though, and dad can be a practical man. For some people, a pile of trash is just a pile of trash. For dad, it’s both an opportunity for a massive bonfire and a pile of potentially useful spare parts and furniture. Within him he has the capacity to see both potential in all of its forms and the ability dismiss that potential entirely on a whim. I believe that these two sides war within him, causing him to place significant meaning on certain things that are probably best discarded, and to dismiss the potential of anything he deems bereft of possible returns. A duality with no real middle ground.
He works unbelievably hard for what he believes is the correct course of action. Again, this is a good thing. But like the martyrs of old, he sees it as a quest he must do, even as his expense. His health deteriorates, his stressed double him over, and life beats him when he’s down at his lowest, only to show him that, in fact, it can get worse. I remember one time clearly, where all he could do was lie on a couch in a state best described as in shock. He had some of the worst days in his life at this point, and like a soldier fresh off the battlefield better described as butchery, dad could do nothing but try to figure out what he’d done to deserve any of it. His shock and despair was palpable, and filled the whole house with his sadness and melancholy. All I could do was sit by him and be there. No words were capable of helping at that point.
At one point does one begin to realize that they cannot do everything they wish to do? To what degree is a sacrifice of self worth it?
My dad is a complex guy, who has lived life at its highest and is currently living a life at a low I wish never to understand fully. He is a creature of twos, constantly at odds. Despite this, I know he’s a great father, and the best person I could have in my corner when the going gets particularly tough.
He does need to learn to relax though.
Happy father’s day, dad. I love you, and I hope that your day today is nothing save amazing. Much love,
The middle son