My dad

September 25, 2008

My parents will be arriving tomorrow for a visit. It will be good, and not only because I think they’ll re-stock our fridge and feed us (I am so apathetic about what we eat now that I feel like I should be getting some kind of domestic demotion). It will be good because I really need to see my dad.

Because of harvest, Dad wasn’t able to visit us when we were in Portland or be there to meet and say goodbye to Teddy, and I haven’t seen him since we first found out about Teddy’s CDH. I know he wanted to be with us, and that he was distracted during the harvest months, which is worrisome – no one grief-stricken should be operating heavy machinery.

I look like Mom, but I tend to act like Dad – generally reserved, undemonstrative, and stoic. This is some sort of cultural inheritance, I think, from our Scandinavian ancestors, people who did the hard work of farming in northern climates in the warmer months and then went a-viking in the off season because, hey, who needs any sort of break from hard work? There are even jokes about the non-expansive emotional expressions of my people: “Have you heard of the Swedish farmer who loved his wife so much he almost told her?” So, neither Dad nor I tend to wear our hearts on our sleeves, and we don’t volunteer much information on how we’re doing, you know, inwardly.

I would still rather stab myself with a pin than cry in public, not that this is a choice I’ve been presented with recently (Could I have the stabbing myself with a pin option instead, please?). And I’m still not good about sharing my feelings, but over the past few years I’ve come a long way in this respect – one of the truly amazing things about being married to N is that he encourages me to communicate and generally refuses to let me persist in taciturnity. Some days this drives me absolutely crazy, but the outcome has been that N and I know each other pretty darn well and I know I can be honest with him, even when my honesty is ugly.

When we found out about our baby’s hernia, Mom spent a lot of time trying to say comforting things, and while comfort was her intent, listening to her going on started to make me frantic. Dad, on they other hand, basically said, “This is terrible, this is really hard,” and for some reason that helped me, just acknowledgment that, yes, this sucks, and that part of the suckiness of it was our complete inability to make it go away or make it better. It was mid-summer, and we had been wishfully thinking of a ceiling fan for the bedroom. Dad brought us one and helped install it – his way of offering comfort.

The day after Teddy died, my father went to dinner at a fast food restaurant with my uncle, who was helping with harvest, and somewhere in the line to the counter, Dad broke down crying. I hold that image in my heart and wonder at it, at how much sorrow Dad must have felt to let go that way in a public place. My tough, weathered, loving Dad.

Hopefully tomorrow I get to give him a hug.


One comment

  1. I just found your blog – you write so beautifully and everything I’ve read is as if I wrote it myself. This post really spoke to me, because my dad and I are the same as you and yours. And when he cried at the hospital when my baby died, it broke my heart. My wonderful, strong father. You dad sounds like a great, loving, sensitive dad under all that strength.

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