He wasn’t what I expected when he open the door to me. A small man wearing an aquamarine golf styled shirt with grey slacks and black shoes. His apartment wasn’t overcrowded with junk, and he had a few photos placed through his place. He sat in his Lazy Boy the entire time that I cleaned. He didn’t turn the TV or the radio on. Once or twice, I saw him leaning over to see what I was doing.
For some reason thoughts of my Dad kept floating up, and it took me a bit to realize that my client reminded me of my Dad. The few times I have been at my Dad’s apartment, it eerily resembled my client’s place with exceptions. Sometimes when I am with a client, I am able to glean a lot of information about someone with how they choose to decorate their home.
Pictures can carry truths, but they can also convey lies that will haunt you until you are willing to step out of the past, and start digging out what you thought was yesterday’s glory. Smiles lie too; they cover up the sadness and disappointment that dwells in the background. Often I look at pictures of my Dad and I and I wonder what happened. Everyone has a different side of the story to tell, and well it seems I am the only one who tells the side that I do.
It seems when I turned five that my reminiscences became clearer, at least in my mind, and when my memories materialized as signposts for me. I had simple desires as a child, and one of those essentials was to spend time with my Dad. I didn’t understand or know why I wanted this, and I didn’t analyze it. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that what was important to me, was getting to know my Dad. I want him to know who I was and love me. I longed for him to take notice of me; I wanted to be able to trust him.
My Dad is a quiet man. He didn’t share his private life with anyone outside of his family. He was devoted to taking care of his mother, my Bubi. He didn’t have any friends that I knew of when I was growing up. He was too reserved to share his interests or hobbies with other men. He kept to himself, mowed the lawn, took care of his car, watched sports and movies on his black and white TV. I know very little of my Dad.
Anything that I know about my Dad is because I asked. Purposely I spent time with my Dad, I inquired about the rules of football and hockey, not because I like the game, but because I wanted to be able to connect and discuss something with him. I was trying to find a balance, and hoping he would take a hint and maybe would ask me some questions that would indicate that he was interested in getting to know his daughter.
My Mom always told me that she loved me while I was growing up. She was full of hugs, and for years, I literally hung onto her for dear life. However, I didn’t know if my Dad loved me because I didn’t hear him communicate it to me. Love is shown in many ways, and he provided me with shelter, food, water, all of the basics. This way I was shown basic love, but I wanted him to express the love in his heart for me vocally. Yes, he bought me things, but it wasn’t what I really needed. What I really needed was for him to notice me, to want and show me that he wanted to spend time with me. Stuck in my heart, the question that was begging to be asked; am I important to him?
I don’t know the background of my Zayda, all I do know is that he emigrated from Kiev, Ukraine in the early 1900’s when he was a young boy. My Dad never spoke favourably of his father’s side of the family. Growing up, I only was acquainted with relatives from my Bubi’s side.
Zayda was an elusive figure in my young life, and even though I have attempted to find out and understand more of the man who was my grandfather, I am still at a loss. I do know my Dad’s hatred for his father has left a hole in him. When I did inquire, it was evident that this was a subject that he didn’t like speaking on. My grandfather spent a chuck of time at a hospital well-known as a psychiatric hospital, but when I asked why, I was tersely told that he was ‘ just psychotic.’ My aunt informed me that it was just dementia that Zayda had, and not to worry, but why spend all those years in a hospital and not a nursing home, if it was just dementia.
In the beginning of my initial conversion, I made the decision to forgive my Dad, and I did, but more things kept springing up as the years went on. I kept forgiving him for what seem the same things, but as time passed, I discovered that they contained deeper pockets of truth for me to heal. I can’t change him as much as I would like, that is a choice for him to make. I have moved back and stopped initiating opportunities to see him because it was never my responsibility as his daughter.
I wish more people could understand what immense value a father has in his daughter’s life. So many men give up or disappear in their daughters lives as they begin growing into a young woman; they don’t realize the pivotal role they have in guiding their little girls into well-adjusted and responsible adults. Unfortunately, the family is changing, and having a father involved has become an option not a necessary requirement for a girls development into adulthood.
I have come to understand that my Dad’s lack of receiving any love and care was hindered, the absence of my grandfather hurt him, though I don’t think he would readily admit to it. He was not taught how to love and father my sister and I.
Love scared me when I craved and thirsted for it the most, and I suspect my Dad does as well.
As an adult, I still struggle with the concept of a loving and merciful God. All things that God is, I experienced the opposite with my Dad. As a little girl, instead of learning to trust I do deserve good things in my life, I taught myself that I didn’t deserve anything good. I grew up believing that God was just waiting to accuse me, in fact, most of the things I thought to be true; I found out were actually lies. Even though I grew up believing in God, I didn’t know who He [is] and I certainly didn’t know how much he loved and loves me.