Mason wrote:Was always a great provider. Always made time for the family, always played catch with me and drove me to baseball practice. Directly responsible for my sense of humour (and my musicality, though that skipped a generation). On paper, pretty great.
My dad is a thoroughly awful person. Emotionally abusive and slowly getting more comfortable with the physical kind, yet a teetotaller. Brilliant but poorly-read and incurious, which amounted to a giant ego predicated on being smarter than others and an inability to recognize when he wasn't. Still working at the TV station he started cleaning or whatever at age 16, yet convinced no one is more worldly.
I kept a 90 average through high school, didn't drink or smoke once, never questioned his superiority or otherwise gave him grief, yet every two or three days throughout high school, he'd find an excuse to tell me, from the top of his lungs as his face flushed, "You think you know everything, but you know nothing." Just as often, over something like a book left in the living room or a sweater on the floor of my bedroom, would come, "You are the laziest human being on the face of the earth." Nearer the end of my teens, he tried physically throwing me out of the house, permanently, because I hadn't coiled up our garden hose properly the last few times I used it.
No one spoke to him on Father's Day.
damn. in a way, much of this sounds curiously familiar.
i've heard those kind of unforgiving and judgmental rebukes before from my dad many times. he gets up really early for work, and his work demands a lot of hours and focus from him, so my own work ethic has always seemed really shitty from where he stands and he reminds me of that quite often. i mean i'm not lazy, i've worked quite hard on many jobs and projects, but i never had the stomach for the 5-am rising and ceaseless commitment that his job required. so anyways, he'd always complain that i wasn't industrious enough, and his complaints would frequently descend into very total judgments and hyperbole.
i too was successful in school, very much so in fact, and it was never quite good enough. it was always like, so if i am getting straight A's and taking classes years ahead of my peers, why am i not, like, inventing something or starting a company like that other teenage whiz or getting national recognition for my math/physics skills? he'd say it like, why am i not pulling that
off, like he couldn't see any possible excuse for why i hadn't taken that next step.
got thrown out of the house once because he was frustrated with putting me up when i was un- or under-employed a few years back, in my earlier years as a young adult.
he and i have mostly patched things up, which definitely has something to do with my now being able to live and support myself independent of him. but it's hard to forget that my earlier need to rely on him was seen as being very burdensome and disappointing.
in the end, though we've had our difficulties i still feel very close to him. while he's always had complaints about my work ethic, on the other hand he's been very encouraging as to my actual work skills, and always urged that i never sell myself short as to my value as a computer programmer. he can still be very moralizing but it's not always all that unforgiving. when things have frustrated me (and i could explain it to him without him chalking it up to me being lazy or under-committed) he's had really great insight and i definitely am much better off now for having that advice. he's politically opinionated and opposite the spectrum from me, but he is very good at having an open discussion about that and finding common ground. when things aren't combative between us i really like spending time with him. and he's made many sacrifices for me, and always made sure to spend a lot of time with me as a kid although he had those long hours. and as much as his work ethic has been an impossible bar to set for me, i am nonetheless proud of him for how hard he works, especially since it's really all for the family and his own life is very austere.
NC in the end, despite many struggles. thinking now about the issues we've had, i think what it comes down to is that he's a very intense person, to the point of sometimes losing his bearings.
this past father's day was surely difficult for him because his own father (my grandpa) has alzheimer's. so i made sure to pay him a kind phone call.