Friday, June 09, 2023

the year without fathers

Today, I was thinking how dare the world celebrate Father's Day and Mother's Day so carelessly close together. Especially here at the top of the summer, where I feel like I am finally climbing out of a dark hole. And yet there it is. In the months after my mother's death, I wrote an entire book of poems. I don't have the urge to do so for my dad, though the home improvements series references parental losses more generally. Really, my father and I's relationship was far less fraught with the stuff poetry is made of, though maybe it's just a different kind of poetry I don't really write. 

Through much of my adult life, I had a tiny inkling fear that we'd never been particularly that close. But I also had not a single clue how to breach patterns that persisted since childhood. Overall--it was a good relationship and my father was the type of person who would do anything for his kids,--like ridiculous things like driving me to multiple states, moving me several times, financial support in younger years, dealing with dead cats, and general life stuff. But my mother was someone who took up a lot space by her nature--talkative, extroverted, always moving. While we all had our moments when I was a teen especially, I grew into an adult who had a sound relationship with both, but my dad was always in the background while my mother and us daughters were the main show. For all the years I lived separately from them, my mother was the receiver of phone calls, which sometimes included my dad's commentary from the side of the room. But like in the car where he mostly drove and nodded along silently, we were a group of women who were constantly talking. 

After my mother slowly started losing her mind due to an infection in the fall of 2017, I found myself on the phone with him for the first time, which was strange--at first all our conversations about her. But after she died, he took the mantle of the twice-weekly calls and eventually we fell into a groove. I feel like I had more conversations with my dad in those final last five years than the entire four decades before. So at least there was that. But it doesn't make things like Father's Day any easier. I actually rarely spent the holiday with him since I would normally be planning a summer trip to Rockford in the surrounding weeks and we would just celebrate then, but there would usually be gifts sent via Amazon, the usual weekly Sunday call. But I will still be reminded all of June no doubt of fathers and it will pull and drag and threaten to drown me. Jealous and angry in a way I am not usually about anything else.

A few weeks ago, on Mother's Day, I was so woefully sick with a cold and in a mood to smash just about everything even after all these years, so I don't know what next Sunday will bring mood-wise. I also find myself perhaps without the catharsis of a writing project about my dad, which seems a strange thing, but I don't know what those poems would necessarily be about. What they would look like. Perhaps, it's a book already written--my love of horror that charts so many projects, but particularly DARK COUNTRY is all him. As is perhaps my reading and writing habits in general.  I am thankfully a little less shell-shocked than I was all of 2018..maybe because it's easier somehow to lose the second parent than it is the first?  Or is it that we were there with him in the last moments?  His illness and death came on and went out even more suddenly than my mom's. He was there and then gone in a matter of a couple weeks I have often debated in darker moments whether it was better to be there in the final moments or to not to be there in the final moments. I've decided both were just their own special kind of horrible. At the very least, my dad does not appear in dreams thinking he is still alive. He doesn't appear in my dreams at all, though my mother still knocks around from time to time. But then again, his absence is another kind of sadness. 

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