Getting to know you
You think you know your parents. They raise you. They feed you. They fund you. They make you who you are. When I was growing up people would say things to me like, “your parents are married?” and “I didn’t know you had a dad.”
Everyone assumed my parents were divorced because their relationship was, as many of this generation, transactional. Mom cooked, cleaned, managed the house and in return dad gave her money. He didn’t come to school events or join us for family outings and vacations. He was busy working to fund our lifestyle and that was the extent of his familial obligation. I think as one of sixteen kids you get pushed out of the nest early. Or maybe you simply fall out and no one notices.
I never really knew my father beyond my weekly “paper handshake.” After school on Fridays I would bake Pillsbury’s “Easy One Egg Cake” and he would give me a twenty. If he’d had a couple of Miller Lites I could easily get him to part with a benjamin for a new pair of jeans.
From the time I could dial til age 29 I called my mom at least three times a day. When she died I continued to pick up the phone. Habit. At first it made me sad, but you adapt. Instead of putting it down I called dad. He didn’t know it but he was going to be my friend. Like it or lump it. I stood in as husband for 29 years and now it was his turn to ante up. Me and dad, BFFs.
We have a lot in common. We both appreciate architecture. We both like to work with our hands. We are both proud and stubborn. Still being a dad is a new job for him. This time I require more than cash. I demand participation. Family Bingo- you betcha. Dinner on the porch- on my way. His company is always welcome in our circle. Where else but at our table can you hear things like “so I’m in Montreal in this whorehouse” or “I slept with his mother and he looks just like me, so I think he’s mine.”