Origins 1

I am named after my father, though I don’t know why. Perhaps my parents simply didn’t have any other ideas at the time. I wasn’t expected, after all. O, I’m sure I was expected eventually, and certainly by the time the actual birth came along, but I was not expected at the beginning. Not “planned” is the term I’m looking for, I suppose.

I remain, to this day, unconvinced that a sequel to my father was, strictly speaking, necessary. From him, I’ve inherited little but my tendency towards depression and alcoholism.

Dad was in the Navy and later on worked as a truck driver, then as a welder, and for many years, as a sheet metal fabricator, whatever that is, or was. He was, for a time, a member of the Teamsters Union.

Several years before I happened along, while Dad was driving extremely large trucks all over the country, he was in an accident during which he got thrown through the windshield of his extremely large truck. They say he died for a time, but he got better.

There came a day when I was home from college and my family sat down around the breakfast table. Me, my younger brother, and my mother, too. Dad came out from the bedroom, silent as he ever was, and set an enormous chunk of glass before my mother. Maybe it was the size of an orange.

I shrugged at Mom.

“Sometimes a piece of glass from his accident works itself out from his forehead,” she said. But it had been more than twenty years! My brother and I stared across the table at my father as though he were some sort of alien.

But it was me who soon became the alien, to him, it is safe to say. I lost myself in music, in books, and in my studies, and everyone could tell that he shared nothing in common, almost, with his strange, surprise sequel. I was John Cage to his John Wayne.

He spoke to a friend of mine, recently. He does not speak often but he spoke to this friend of mine, and recently, and about me. This is what he said:

“Harry’s always been really smart. A lot smarter than me. He spent so much time getting all those degrees and we spent so much money sending him to school that I’d always hoped he’d go and find something and get really rich. But he wants to help people.”

OK. There’s that.

There still remains some time, I believe, during which my father and I might get to know one another. To understand one another, even, at least a little. 

That would be unexpected.

Comments

  1. I love this story.Sweet one.your dad looks handsome.Hmm it reminded me of sons and lovers.I feel ur dad is a good man as it reflects in ur smartness.sometimes ignorance is bliss,when u read more and more and use ur reasoning capacity u automatically get conscious about the evils in this world and it brings depression and anger .Ha ha see those religious. hordes.They r happy believing in imaginary gods and heavens.

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    1. Thank you, Arun. He's a good guy and certainly was committed to doing what it took to make sure his family could get by.

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  2. I hope you do get to know your dad a little better and he gets to know you.

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    1. If nothing else, I've completely won him over to my politics over the years. It's sort of our go-to topic of conversation at this point, which already means we have one more thing to talk about than we did when I was in high school.

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  3. You probably have more in common with your Dad than you realise. Sometimes you have to look past all the obvious differences, sadly you may not find out what they are until he's passed away.

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    1. After all you have gone through with your parents, I'm going to give those words some weight.

      My father had a bit of a close call a few years back and things have been a little better (as in I've put in more effort) since then. It's sort of like a second chance now.

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    2. Don't miss the opportunity the put things right with your Dad, however tough. Actually more for you than for him.

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    3. Writing this post (and the comments that have come after it) has made me think I need to go take him on a short trip or something. Some kind of bonding experience. Why not. If nothing else, I'll get a good blog post or two out of it.

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  4. I can relate. I'm the next genetic copy of my father, also. The younger and wirier of two brothers, like he was. Thank the gods of DNA I got my hair from my mother, as my dad was bald as a cue ball by age thirty-five. On the other hand, he lived to be eighty-four years old, something I have difficulty seeing myself doing.
    I never got along with him very well.
    In the last few years, however, and especially since his death in 2015, I can see some really good qualities in him that our differences used to get in the way of me seeing. He loved the outdoors, and moved his family from Oklahoma to California, where he worked for the US Forest Service for thirty years, first doing road location, then as a construction inspector. That is, he came to California and got the government to pay him to walk through the National Forests all summer. Funny how a slight shift in perspective can make such a difference in the way I see even simple things like what my dad's job really was.
    He always felt guilty for not having gone to college, and really wanted his sons to get degrees. We didn't. My sister, however, graduated from UC Berkeley, and even though they had more issues between them than we did, she knew him much better later in his life than I did.
    So if she could get the old man to come around, I have faith that you and your father could get to understanding if you really want to.
    But if so, don't wait too long, like I did.

    -Doug in Oakland

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    1. Yeah, the hair thing. I'm about half a decade older in the last picture here than he was in the picture above that. He started losing his hair in his early twenties and was really obsessed about it.

      I'm going to lose mine, but it will serve me to 50, probably.

      I care about my father and appreciate all the real things he did for us. He would have loved walking around a forest for a living, by the way.

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    1. In my memory, maybe it looks bigger than it actually was.

      That happens. Our driveway looked like it was a mile long when I was a kid, but now I go back and look at our old house and it looks meh.

      Unreliable narrator, I suppose.

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  6. Parents are often aliens. Even the ones without fantastically large glass balls coming out of them. One would think that sharing so much, biologically speaking, might mean that we'll share more when it comes to the rest. But no. We just are. And so are they.

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    1. Hi, Megaly! I don't have kids and it's probably a good thing. I have a feeling any kid of mine wouldn't be able to write anything this neutral in forty years. I'm way too alien and self-centered.

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    1. Thanks, Donna. I rarely write things this personal. Anything's worth a try once, though.

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  8. Nothing needs the practice of tolerance more than family relations. But sometimes even that isn't enough.

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    1. Absolutely, and I've been pretty lucky, overall. I've never winced at the idea of having to be around my immediate family. And I trust them all. I know a lot of people for whom that's not the case.

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  9. I really like this, and I can relate to it a lot. My dad, before he retired, was an electronic technician... whatever that is. I know he can essentially repair any machine as long as it's not a computer, which is his kryptonite. He doesn't talk much, either, and we don't share any of the same hobbies or interests.

    Despite that, we get along quite well.

    As I get older, and I assume you're finding this out as well, it's easier to talk to him and try to understand him, and vice versa, if only because he (finally) no longer sees me as a little kid. It only took 33 years, but by golly, I've evolved from a 32 year old boy to a 33 year old man.

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    1. Thanks. Dad and I can get along great now that I can grumble about "kids today" with some credibility. He needs more friends, because he is the perfect "sitting on the front porch, grumbling about how the world is going to Hell" sort of guy, I think.

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  10. Yeah, my dad and I have never been close. So much that I have been forced to consider if I was truly his kid. Over the years though I've tried to have a relationship with him but the best example showing how futile that has been happened when he came to visit my siblings who live a couple of hours away.

    After arriving at my sister's house with my kids I learned within minutes that dad had showered my siblings and their children with a bunch of gifts. None were expensive and several were homemade but he had somehow forgotten to do anything for me or my kids. It was the straw that broke the camel's back. I stayed that day so my kids could have some time with him but after that I've pretty much blown him off.

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    1. At this point, that can't be chalked up to a beginner's mistake, can it?

      I generally assume people who do things like that just aren't thinking, but man... Hopefully things get better. I keep hearing that can happen!

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  11. I understand your post so much Harry! I have cried over the years, of how much my mother and father and even my brothers, don't "know" me. My one brother, when we see each other, it's like being with a stranger. But, through this all, I am grateful for all of them! We all have our paths. We have to be true to ourselves and as long as we "know" who we are, that is the main thing! Now, I just smile. I do hope you can have a better relationship with your father!! Big Crow Hugs!

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    1. I agree that we should appreciate these relationships for what they are. I've never believed that i was so complicated that there was much to figure out. But if people get along well enough to sit and talk about politics or the weather, maybe that's enough.

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  12. That combination of close and totally alien are what makes being part of a family so entertaining.

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    1. Haha... This is a great quote. That's how I always felt back when I lived with my ex. We'd be on the same page about almost everything and then she'd say something out of left field that made me see I didn't know her at all.

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    2. I find I have less and less of that out of the blue strangeness. I'm not sure if it's because of my happy ruts or is I'm getting smarter. Or maybe it's because I don't expect much anymore.

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    3. I think it's because you're getting smarter.

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  13. Don't lose hope in that. I had zero in common with my father growing up. (He and my brother had everything in common.) He couldn't relate to anything I did or liked. That continued into adulthood, but little by little, we have come to an understanding and found common ground.

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    1. Sounds like a few of the people who have commented here have had similar stories.

      My brother is a lot more like my dad than I am. Somehow, my brother has been some sort of liminal figure, existing on the edge of both my world and my dad's.

      I'll keep trying...

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  14. You probably are familiar with the song The Living Years. It can still produce a tear or two.
    One line that really gets me is "... because it's too late when we die to admit we don't see eye-to-eye." Good luck, keep trying.

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    1. I was about 16 when that song came out, and I went out and bought anything that was Genesis-related at the time. Still, the sentiment didn't connect with me back then the way it does now.

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  15. Dad and I became friends, near the end, or I like to hope that's what you would call it, friends. He died when I was twenty seven, he was less than a year younger than I am now. The moments we had are what I have left of him. http://neanderpundit.com/?p=1103

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    1. That's a really good post. It really seems like my experience here is more common that I would have thought. Things seem to get better with time.

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    2. Thank you. There are a few more like it, and I hope it helps you to draw close with your dad.

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  16. Looks like I picked a good time to pay my first visit. I enjoyed the origins story and appreciate you sharing because it's definitely not easy opening yourself up like this. Best of luck getting to know your dad better. Take care.

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    1. Hi, Mr. Shife! Coming in with this one is probably not going to make whatever comes next make any more sense.

      This one was hard to write, especially with the pictures of Dad and me through the years. It's not something I've attempted to do very often, or maybe even ever before...

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  17. Honesty is the best policy in all relationships - at the end of the day, it's all about love.

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    1. I think that's right. My family has always been there for me, everybody tries their best, and since high school, at least, I've managed not to be too awfully bad to them, either. There's been absolutely no one outside of them who have stood by me through it all.

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  18. Going gently John here... that third photo was rather moving me thinks

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    1. Thanks John - I like that one, too. I've been raiding online account where she stores old picture scans, and that one (probably seventh grade, 1985) jumped out at me.

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  19. the only thing I got from my Dad was a warped sense of humor and his thumbs! nobody else got those but me...

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    1. That doesn't sound like the worst inheritance in the world. I'm assuming anyway - I haven't seen your thumbs.

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