Friday, August 13, 2010

"I hate to say it, Dad, but it's your son, Rob."

This is how I felt today after talking to my father. I tend to feel this way when I'm done chatting with him. Somehow, without any great effort, my father makes me regret talking to him.

Dad's been in the hospital because of some medication and pain issues. Both were coincidental. He's on a steady dose of blood thinners because of a mitral valve replacement over a decade ago. The dose of said medication was too high, putting him at risk for internal bleeding. He also took a fall almost two months ago, landing on his rump. When he went to stand, he did something to his back. He didn't know what; he just knew the pain was incredible. It turns out that he had a hairline fracture in one of his vertebrae. They fixed it while he was in the hospital by GLUING the fracture. (Our days of organ replacement las though we were made of LEGO isn't far away!)

I've been in touch with my step-mom, and told her to have dad call when he was finally out. Becky and I have been contemplating a visit to Long Island to see my father, and I wanted to get those plans ironed out.

Mom and Dad don't get it. I just want to see them. It's been several years since I've done so, yet my father kept putting delay after delay on my visit because of one medical issue after another. I'm not even hinting anymore. I've flat-out said, "Dad, I don't care if you're home on in the hospital. I want to see you. You don't have to play 'the good just' while I'm there. Just be my father." Amazingly, he doesn't get it. He keeps wanting to postpone my visits on the chance he won't be capable of entertaining me.

Today, while I was being brought to a cooler place to wait for our A/C to be fixed, (which it has), Dad called. I asked if I could call him once I was out of the car. He said it was. So I did. And I came away from the call feeling as though it was oh so unfortunate that I was his child.

I asked if it was okay if Becky and I came to visit, and he said it should be. I asked if there was any way for him to help with the motel while in NY, and...Well, he refused in such a way that it hurt. "If you want to come visit, you have to do it on your own." I could have sworn that he actually wanted to see me from time to time. His tone sent the message, "If you want to see me, you have to do it on your own power. I'm not that interested in seeing you." And yet he agreed that it'd been several years since we'd seen one another and that he would like me to visit.

Then I got grilled about Becky.

Dad: How are you going to afford this trip?
Me: Becky and I have been working out our finances. If you can't help, we can swing at least one night, and maybe two.
Dad: Is she going to school? Is she working?
Me: She was accepted to nursing school. She'll be starting soon, and I'll be moving in with her some time between March and June.
Dad: How are you going to do that with only one source of income?
Me: She'll be going to school and working, Dad.
Dad: Does her family have money?

Mentally, I hesitated. If Becky wanted money from family, I believe she could get it. There's an apparent agreement between her and her step-father that if she can make it to her second year of college, she'll get (insert small number) thousand dollars. But two things occurred to me. The first was that it was none of my father's business. What SHOULD be his business is that I'm HAPPY. Instead, like a stereotypical Jew, he wants to know if I found a girl with money. The other thing is that I'm not with Becky for money she has or doesn't have. I'm with her because I love her.

Me: I honestly don't know. ("Honest?" I was LYING!) Her family might have money. I never asked.
Dad: Oh. And you're sure you'll be able to afford living together?
Me: Yes, Dad. With my SSD and her income, we should be fine. And nurses get paid pretty well.
Dad: Yeah, but that's a long way off.
Me: We'll be fine, Dad.
Dad: If you say so.

Gee, Dad...Thanks for the vote of confidence.

I'm reaching the point where I think I'm clinging to my father because he's the only relative left talking to me. And he doesn't talk to me out of love. I'm not sure he even knows what that is. I think he talks to me because he feels obligated to do so. And if he could do what he truly wanted, he wouldn't talk to me at all. I'm the son with the most brains who didn't go far. I'm the son who became lazy and filed for disability; I'm not "really" sick. I'm the son who chased one dream after another, only to discover reality worked an entirely different way. And, of course, there's the fact that absolutely none of my relationships have ever worked out. Dad expects my romance with Becky to die quickly and painfully, just like all the others.

How on Earth did my parents end up with a child as emotional as I am? My biological mother couldn't care less about anyone on Earth, other than herself. To my father, it would seem that marriage is a business deal to be made, not a romantic fantasy to be fulfilled. If that's the case, then his marriage to my step-mother wasn't a creation of love; it was made of convenience. And if what I just said is true, then my father is a real piece of...work.

I will marry for love. It sounds crazy, but I never wanted to marry someone because of their job or how much they had in the bank. I certainly never sought the most convenient relationship, because I'd be dating someone here in KS if I did. And when my future wife comes home in the future, I will greet her with a kiss and an embrace, and not, "So...How do the quarterly projections look?"

Personally, I think I'm lucky. Barry and Stu - my idiot brothers - see life as a river that flows through a bank. That's it. That's why I had my falling-out with Stu last year, since I wasn't willing to give up the role of brother and turn into an ATM. And as far as I know, the last time Barry called my father was to ask if my Dad had money. Dad didn't, so Barry, who lives approximately five miles away, hasn't come to visit or called my father again.

This is the family my father wanted to unite?

Hmmm...Don't think I mentioned that one. At a ceremony in which my grandmother's tombstone was unveiled, my father addressed the immediate family. He asked that we strengthen the bond that are supposed to exist between family members. I, being the romantic fool that I am, took that message to heart. *I* was the one who called my brothers and cousins. *I* was the one who pursued familial relationships. Thus, *I* was the one who came up as not being a failure, because at least I tried.

The rest of my family just wants to know how their bank accounts are doing. There's no love to be found, and that makes me sad.

If money is such a great concern for my father, then he's quite the hypocrite. It's amazing how he supposedly has no money, not even to help his son stay an extra night to visit, but he has cable, a car, and various other extras in life that cost entirely too much. I should be a jerk in September when I see him, and offer to not only help him return his cable box, but also help him sell his car and cut up his credit cards.

Ah, but I'm not a jerk. Sometimes I wish I was, though.

So...Much to my father's regret, I'll be seeing him in September. Becky and I will head there on 25 Sept, maybe have dinner with them, then retire to our motel. The next day, we'll try to do lunch, and maybe I'll also show her those places that were important to me while growing up. Then, on 27 Sept., it's back to PA, where I will officially meet my future in-laws. THAT should be fun. And come 30 Sept., I'll be on my way back to KS. But I won't be on my way home. Home is wherever Becky is.

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