Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pop Corn

During a study session from a couple of weeks, ago, somehow my father was mentioned in-conversation. I responded by sharing the fact that I hadn't had contact with him in about three years.

I don't remember if my classmates reacted with mouth-gaping expressions of incredulity or not, but I felt the impact of their hypothetical stares, anyway. I imagine they stared, searching my face for signs of hurt because of this estrangement, callousness perhaps marked by my casual mentioning of this sad fact, or maybe they were wondering what trait I might possess that'd make me one of those people who doesn't realize that family is much more important than any petty squabble you could have with any of them at any given moment.

It wasn't an expression of hurt that I was sharing and I'm not completely unmoved by this voluntary paternal absence. It's just become a part of my reality - one that I occasionally feel the need to verbalize, perhaps because it's too big to hold inside all of the time.

My father and I have suffered these communicative droughts multiple times over the years. Sometimes we stumble upon a familial oasis where logic and plain ol' good manners dictate that we converse on some level and so the drought is broken for a day or maybe even for as long as a year, but the relationship always dries up and cracks.

Typically, at least a couple of Christmases pass before we somehow make contact, again. I've called him on one or two of his birthdays, but he didn't answer or return the calls.

Until this week.

Yes, I spoke to my father for the first time in a loooong time, the other day. The conversation drifted in the usual places and was carried by what I consider to be his usual aggressive, invasive tones, but because it was his birthday and it WAS the first time we'd spoken in so long, I was determined to do what I could to maintain a bit of positivity. So, I didn't openly react to the words and implications that once would have and one day may, again, sparke mile-high flames.

For his part, he didn't immediately, openly indict me for my noncommittal response to his open invitation to visit and see his new home. From my perspective, we need to take baby steps. We are, after all, two people with the same name who've been unable to hold a civil conversation for any reasonable length of time. I wouldn't recommend diving back into that pool without first testing the waters - or at least making sure there's any water, at all.

From his perspective, though, it could very well be another example and sign of my rejection of him, my mother's inexorable influence, or our generations-long paternal curse of incompatibility. In any case, it's often painful and causes a knee-jerk reaction from him.

Not this time.

So, in the end, we got through a bit of small-talk, shared little, but accomplished a lot. In our relationship, we don't have the luxury of measuring the success of our interactions by the number of positives, but instead, by the absence of negatives.

I'll take it, for now, for as long as it lasts. If nothing else, as corny as it may sound, I've found a something to be thankful for, this year - my Pops.

I wish you the same and more.

1 comment:

Michael May said...

Beautiful post, dude. Not corny at all.