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A Note from Dad

Dad wrote me a nice note and, since I know he reads this blog, I thought I’d answer him here.

Your mom and I greatly enjoyed our visit to your home. I admired the work you have done and was pleased to participate in a small way via the work project putting up shelf brackets with you. The food you and Christy provided was all delicious and our trip to the restaurant was fun in many ways. The Scrabble games were fun, too, even if I was beaten by some very good players.

Your gift of the Tin Roof Blowdown made the return trip seem short as we listened to all 5 CDs. It was a lively tale and gave us many new insights to the Katrina disaster. We are back home now and I’ve been cutting grass like a crazy man while your mother has been busy with a variety of tasks both indoor and out. Its a reminder that taking care of 10 acres and a big house is a lot of work.

Keep me posted on your continuing shelving progress.

With love from Oak Creek, Dad

PS: I forgot to mention the biggest reason for our trip, little Persephone. What a pleasure to see and hold that little darling. You and Christie have to be so very proud.

And speaking of little ones, I have to say that I loved meeting and getting to know Crybaby…. It was fun to see a kitty so small, so sweet, so pretty, and so dominant all at the same time.

Well, Dad, since your departure I’ve been pondering the following question: Since I have such nice parents, why am I such an insufferable prick? Seriously. Mom wondered aloud if you and I would still be talking when she and Xy got back from a stroll in the park with Persephone. And I know she said it because I was being pretty short with you.

It’s not just you. I feel like I’ve always been rather harsh with anyone who gets close to me. From a distance I expect I look pretty mellow. You have to get close to detect the rage that lurks within. I’ve tried to focus this rage on appropriate socio-political icons, but they are distant and friends are near. (Thus the old saying, “You always hurt the ones you love.” It’s a crime of opportunity.) So I get prickly, not to mention prickish, but in different ways and for different reasons, which I enumerate to myself in excruciating detail as I lie awake in bed at night.

After much soul-searching I’ve gotten a good look at this character flaw, and now I can characterize how it looks from the inside: Everyone I love just seems to piss me off in a different way.

The vitriol I direct at you, Dad, is therefore both universal and intensely personal. You’re my parent. After more soul-searching, I realize I have never forgiven you for creating me. I know that sounds bizarre. But see, from a very young age I’ve harbored a sense of impending doom, a feeling that this is going to end badly. We’ve all had moments when we wish we’d never been born, right? My hyper-logical mind has jumped to the brilliant conclusion that if I resent my own existence, as I have from time to time, I should blame my parents.

And as long as I’m revealing my inner madness, I should also mention the state of the world. Seems like it’s going to hell in a handbasket. Who to blame? Mom and Dad, of course.

I know that’s not fair or right, that it doesn’t even make sense. Now that I am a parent myself, I can see that more than ever. It’s never good to hold a grudge, but this one is especially terrible. Therefore, I am trying to let this go — to not be angry toward you (and Mom) but instead express that love I know you both feel for me and which you express so sweetly.

And I appreciated your help with all those crazy brackets. Couldn’t have done it without you. I’ve made a little more progress since you left:

Three New Shelves

Caption: Dad helped me put up the brackets. We put ’em "upside down" to accommodate some of the narrow pine planks I’d bought. After Dad left, I cut em in half, painted ’em green, mounted ’em, and immediately filled ’em with junk. Nice to have stuff on a shelf instead of the floor.

Now I’ve borrowed a router from a friend and am making some slightly fancier shelves for the other rooms.

Thanks for the help. Thanks for everything, Dad, and give my love to Mom.

Published inFamily


  1. PJ PJ

    It would not be a bad idea to consider therapy to work through those feelings B. You’ve got the insurance to cover it if you can find someone competent in all that mess. The stuff I learned about myself made parenting easier and helped me get rid of a lot of anger and resentment about New Orleans, but also, let’s be honest, becoming a dad decreases our ability to be creative people in the ways we are used to.

    When I quit drinking I did it because it was necessary to my emotional survival. It wasn’t killing me physically, but it was making it hard for me to draw the line. What line?

    The ability to change what I can, accept the things I can’t, and the wisdom to know the difference. Boy when I was able to let go of anger and disappointment at the things I could not change it lifted a huge weight off my heart and I felt better instantly. Post K New Orleans is a difficult mine field of emotions, and I’ve got my share.

    Last week I said good bye to an old friend who succumbed to years of drug abuse. Mourning him has made me realize that I had created a room inside my heart where I stored and nurtured my darkest emotions. I left that service more energized about my life and the goals I have set for my future and that of my family. Father’s day is coming up. Open up that room and let go if you can. That is my hope for you, Bart. I recall what Father Linden told me, it takes real courage to allow yourself to be the center of a battle. Let me add that battle is for your own survival and those that matter most to you.

  2. Being a parent will straighten out a lot of your parent/child issues. My parenting experience is limited to a few years as a step parent to a little girl, but those few years generated several crucial insights. I’ll never be pals with my dad, but we can talk, and that has a lot to do with some calls I had to make, apologizing for my youthful behavior and explaining that I finally understood things from his point of view. I should also say that the little girl would never have been in my life had it not been for some hard work in therapy and in recovery from alcoholism, but that’s just me.

  3. spab spab

    I have some issues like you do Bart, but I must admit I feel, as Jon Nelson just stated, that having a child has done wonders on me. It’s not all about you anymore, it’s about her. That can take a load off of something that might have been weighing you down for years. Damn your parents for having you, but bless you for having her. 😉

  4. Don’t think you’re the only one that feels this way. Probably any intelligent person has felt this at one time or another, especially with the state of the world. Katrina has only made it worse. That combined with other family issues made me seek out a counselor, who recommended (OK…it sounds really new agey, but…) meditation. At that point, I was willing to try anything other than anti-depressants, which I had already stopped since I have been continuously trying to lose weight for the last 7 years. It actually helped! I’m not going to say that I don’t sometimes feel the urge to snap at people, but when I do, I run home and light the incense!

  5. I think one of the hallmarks of adulthood is recognizing that our parents are also people. Note that I did not say that this is easy.

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