Sperm Donor’s Day

16 06 2013

I had always been bitter about Father’s Day.  Not bittersweet, mind you, just flat-out bitter.

Yes, I grew up with a father present in the house.  My siblings and I were provided for, fed, clothed, dragged to gatherings of an unreasonably large group of people with whom we shared some faulty genes.  But was there anything remotely close to love present within this man whose eyes look back at me in the mirror?

No.  I’ll leave it at that.

As a youngster, I referred to this annual glorification of the pater familias as Sperm Donor’s Day.  I added fuel to the inferno of spite by giving my male teachers and friends’ dads Father’s Day cards.  My rage against this man who never, ever should have reproduced manifested in self-destruction.  When I looked in the mirror, all I saw was him.  Sickly pale skin, eyes an indeterminate mash-up of greengreyblue, The Most Boring Nose in the World, even his hairline…  I hated everything that I saw, because it was his.  Part of him was in me, and always would be.  I could never escape this.  There was nothing beautiful about what I saw; there never could be.

Years passed, therapists tried as they might, hospitalizations came and went, medications took hold, and I found myself free of his physical presence at the age of 15.  This was the beginning of my life.

I grew from stunted teen to awkward young woman, and I saw the inevitable before me: I must forgive this man if I ever wanted to be free of him.  He slowly, slowly, painfully slowly transformed in my mind from Eternal Oppressor to… failed, flawed man.  His power over me grew weaker with every ounce of strength I gained.  And for the first time, I looked in the mirror and saw…  my mother.  SO much of her.  I saw her jawline, her cheekbones, her smile. I saw her beauty.  And I saw her soul.  I saw all the pain that she endured in staying with this terrible man for 27 years.  And I let all of it go.

At my sister’s wedding, he saw me for the first time in well over a decade.  I stood before his eyes as a manifestation of everything he despised: a strong, independent, intelligent, free-thinking, agnostic woman.  He did not, could not, dared not speak to me.  He cowered.  And when my mother walked my sister down the aisle and presented her in marriage to the love of her life, I think he may have seen what he lost.  Do I know this for certain?  No, because I spent that day celebrating with my sister and loved ones.  His physical presence was of no consequence to me, because I was happy.

Am I still bitter about Father’s Day?  No.  Over the years, I’ve witnessed amazing relationships between fathers and their children, daughters especially.  I’ve come to understand that my own traumatic upbringing is the exception, not the rule.  My brother-in-law, Rich, is a spectacular father to my beautiful nieces, despite a similar childhood struggle.  I married the most loving, caring man I’ve ever known.  Would he be a great father?  Absolutely.  Will we find out?  Absolutely not.  😉


The Wreckers

9 10 2008

There’s a CD I turn to when I need my home, and my family, and the people I love.  There’s one CD that truly plows into my heart and reminds me where I come from.  It’s on now, as it has been for the better part of two weeks.  A few years ago, Michelle Branch formed a country duo with her backup singer, Jessica Harp: The Wreckers took over the country music scene as one of the most promising acts in years.  They released one album, Stand Still, Look Pretty, before they disbanded some 18 months ago. Some of you may scoff at this seemingly odd choice, especially those of you who know my musical background, and I dare say that you’d be right to assume I’d gone absolutely batty.  But seriously, this disc is excellent.  These two women have nearly identical voices, which make for some spine-chilling harmonies.  Paired with damn good, tell-it-like-it-is songwriting and a phenomenal band, it’s simply infectious.

I fall back to this disc when I can’t say what I want to say, which has been precisely my position for the past few weeks.  I know what’s getting to me, I know exactly what brought it on, but due to a completely undeserved promise of loyalty, I can’t discuss it.  So I put this disc on, I sing at the absolute top of my lungs (which is somewhere near Mount Fuji, I’m guessing) and I shell pistachios for the biscotti I’m making for my Mocha Man.  I remember the long, windy drives through the mountains of Eastern Kentucky with my best friend when we played this disc on repeat and gave The Wreckers a run for their vocal money.  I remember sitting in my sister’s bathroom when I lived with her for a few months, watching her put on her makeup and singing along to this disc with her.  I remember driving back and forth to Louisville, nursing a broken heart and letting my rage seep out with the song “Cigarettes” on repeat.

So here I am again, with The Wreckers on repeat, wondering when I’ll quit being pissed about all this.

Not anytime soon, I’m guessing, since I’ve almost drained the juice in my ipod.


4 12 2007

I really don’t know what to say.  No news on Mom; we won’t get the re-test results until Wednesday at the earliest.  I cried all day yesterday.  I cried all day today, when I wasn’t at work.  I took the night off and cooked dinner for my sister and brother-in-law.  They’re not used to having a foodie in the house, so this was a welcome treat for them, and a needed creative release for me. 

I’m a nurturer.  I like to grow things and cook things and bake things and basically love things.  I like to make other people feel better through the things I do.  I’m making a blanket.  I feel the need to take all this worry and fear and anxiety and put it toward something that will one day keep me warm and snuggled.  So I’m making a blanket with the crochet  stitch Mom showed me yesterday.  The first block has lots of mistakes in it, but I really don’t care.  I’m leaving them. 

I’m so scared.  I don’t know what to do other than make this blanket. 

So I’m going to stop writing now and go work on the blanket. 

Thank you all for your continued thoughts and prayers.  I really appreciate it. 

My Beautiful Mother

3 12 2007

To say that I’ve had a rocky relationship with my parents may be the understatement of the century. I’ve seen my father twice in the past sixteen years, and that’s two times too many. Mom’s and my relationship began the slow process of healing when my father quit the scene in 1993. Since then we’ve both grown into the women we are today, shedding the layers of decades of abuse and turning our faces toward the warmth and light of emotional freedom. My sister and I have seen her through the loss of my brother, two minor strokes, brain surgery, pelvic surgery, and open-heart surgery. She is the strongest woman in the world, as far as I’m concerned. I understand her better now than I have in my entire life. And for the first time in 31 years, I drove to her house today not because she guilted me into coming, but because I NEEDED her.

And that’s when she told me about the test she was given for multiple myeloma and lymphoma. And that’s when she showed me the results, which were highly abnormal. The test was run again today, but she won’t have the results for at least three days.

I sat by her side today, for no reason other than to sit there. She showed me how to crochet. She gave me some of her mother’s hand-crocheted afghans. She ate a few of my bourbon balls, amazed that her tomboyish baby girl learned how to cook. I just sat there with her and tried not to think about it. And when I left, I hugged her like I’ve never hugged her before. I hugged her like I MEANT it. I’ll never forget the look on her face as I pulled out of the driveway. Something told me not to forget it.

I let Patty Griffin sing to me on the way home, as the tears leaked from my eyes and the gravity of this started to sink in. I’m not ready. I’m not ready for her to leave me. I just now came to understand exactly how much I need her, just today. Hours before she told me this.

Nothing is certain at the moment. Nothing is certain but the love I’ve suddenly come to understand for this woman who gave up everything so I could have a chance. My beautiful mother.