Thursday, November 10, 2005

Daddy's girl


Last night, after Emily, Gary, Mr. Blogger and I went to see Kiwi and Mina in the hospital, we headed out to dinner 'cause we were all starving. Well, some of us were starving and envious of having beautiful babies.

The topic of course turned to blogging and I told them how on some days, I just SIT here thinking, what the HELL am I going to write about today?

Today is one of those days.

See, my life just isn't all that interesting. Not that I could talk about work even if I wanted to (see "Dooced"), but being home on disability doesn't allow for many ooo-weee-don't-you-wish-you-had-my-mile-a-minute-existence tales of glee. (This would also explain why I often write about my husband, because he is often the only person I see on a regular basis. Ok, he's also ridiculously cute and quirky.)

So instead I often reminisce. Or as Emily asked, "Are we to assume that when you tell a story, it means you couldn't think of anything else to write?".

Yes, Emily, assume away.

I think I have avoided talking much about my Dad for a while now. And for a good reason. We just never had much of a relationship. My parents divorced when I was very young, and frankly, my step-dad was more of my father figure. But the ways in which my father affected my life, and my self-esteem especially, are still being felt today. It's amazing to realize just how much a parent can influence a very small child. It's even more amazing to see how 30-odd years later, that child still wonders what she did wrong.

Before my Dad died last year from cancer, I tried to make sure we at least were COMMUNICATING (for us...quite a feat, considering that we didn't speak for 12 years at one point). I did the best I could, but there was no great moment of closure. I just hoped he died in peace. I never wanted any more from him than that.

I'm very aware that there are a couple relatives from his side that may be reading this, but I think they know me well enough to realize I'm only telling the truth.

But when my Mom mentioned in her comments to yesterday's entry that my Dad didn't believe I made my own birthday cake, I had to laugh. See, my Dad often didn't believe me.

It's weird but true. He told me it was due to the fact that he was a judge, and that was simply his nature. He had to be dubious in order to thoughtfully question the "truth". From there he would be able to best make an informed decision.

But helloooooo? I was a kid, not a district attorney arguing my case before his court. I was a GOOD kid who never really got into trouble. Why not believe me? Come on...take a chance!

My Mom was a teacher all my life, so naturally she used those skills in raising me. I therefore knew how to read at a very, very young age. When I was about 1 1/ 2, my Dad came home from work (I used to get SO EXCITED when I saw him coming up the path!) and scooped me up in his arms.

I grabbed his tie and turned it over.

"Jaaaaaay. Ceeeeee. Penney."

"What?!"

"Jaaaaaay. Ceeeeee. Penney!"

"(Brooke's Mom's name)!!!"

"Yes?"

"I think the child can read."

"I know. I taught her."

"Well that's not possible."

Of course it wasn't. I had apparently memorized which ties were from that particular store. And Mom and I were in cahoots to pull one over on him. Oh the hijinks my Mom and I came up with!

Yes, Daddy. I could read. I also equally freaked out my grandmother by reading the cans of food on her shelves, but at least she knew I wasn't put up to it.

And my nursery school teachers also accused me of memorizing books when they saw me reading to all the other 3-year-olds...until they kept giving me book after book to test me. What always makes me giggle about the nursery school incident though, is that all the kids had figured out my abilities way before that. They just kept bringing me tome upon tome to read to them. No judging, just "Here! Read this one!".

When I was in seventh grade, I was Snoopy in our school's performance of "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown". On a break to reset the lights during a dress rehearsal, all us kids went outside to play. Why we decided to play "keep away" on the cement amphitheater steps is beyond me. Of course I fell. Of course I fell face first without putting my hands out to break my fall. Of course that resulted in one IMPRESSIVE shiner.

It was a black eye to rival Rocky's. Not like me to do something half way! (Now THAT I got from my Dad!) But not to worry, the show must go on...I squinted my way through all the performances. The pictures of me in that show are a flippin' riot.

When I went to see him on our usual Sunday visit, I guess it was a little hard to hide the multicolored puff ball that was my eye.

"Who hit you?"

"NO ONE HIT ME! I fell."

"You can't fall without naturally putting your hands in front of you. Impossible...it's reflex. So who hit you?"

"Oh my god...NOBODY! I just fell in a weird way and didn't even realize it until I was down. There was no time to break my fall."

"Impossible. Must have been your mother. You're obviously covering for her."

"MY MOTHER DID NOT HIT ME!!! Why won't you believe me?"

"Your step-dad then."

I guess Daddy didn't get that ours was not a household in which disagreements were solved through title bouts. I gave up.

Many years later, after the 12 year intermission, I was now an adult woman with a career and a husband and RESPONSIBILITIES. I could hold my own, right? Nope.

We went out to dinner and he ordered a drink.

"Are you going to have anything?"

"Oh, no thanks. I don't drink."

"Are you an alcoholic?"

"No Daddy, I'm not an alcoholic." (Exasperated sigh that NOTHING HAS CHANGED in all that time we didn't speak.)

"So what's the problem?"

"I just don't drink. It's no big deal. I never have."

"Never?"

"Nope. Never even tasted alcohol. Just never appealed to me."

"Right."

"You don't believe me."

"Well, surely you've had something. For some reason you don't feel comfortable telling me why you've stopped."

I would love to tell him that his obsessive control issues were unfortunately handed down to me. I'm literally AFRAID of ever being in a position where I am not in absolute control of my faculties. I have done no drug, smoked no cigarette, taken not one sip of spirits...even through the college years when I had to hold many a friend's hair back as she puked up all the jello shots.

Look, I know it wasn't ALL bad. I look EXACTLY like his side of the family and they are lovely, lovely, warm and wonderful people. I got his voice and love of performing. And as much as I joke about being an English Major in the womb (having come from both a mother and father who valued a good book above all else), the truth is that the man used to read me A Child's Christmas in Wales every single holiday season.

I will also never forget the time that he literally choked up telling me how much it meant to him that I told him I loved him.

I am my father's daughter in more ways than he probably ever realized. I hope he watches over me and is proud of the person I've become. And I really hope he BELIEVES ME when I say that I will get through this particular rough patch in my life right now.

But of course I will. He would expect no less.

5 Comments:

Blogger emily said...

i think at one point or another we've ALL been sceptical of the fact that you've never had a drop of alcohol. even my non-drinking wife has had a drink before. but i'll verify, i do KNOW that you've never had a drink, although i think it'd be DAMN funny to see you drunk considering you're pretty uninhibited as is.

that reading story cracks me up everytime. i'm SO going to teach our kid to do that. well, not to identify the wife's TIES, but you know what i mean. and memorizing all the books in your nursery school, your dad's ties and the food in the cupboards, well that's TOTALLY more believable than the idea that perhaps you knew how to read. i'm sure we'd all make that mistake.

12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You were reading words at age one, sentences at two and books at three. Do you remember the time that you and your grandmother were sitting at a bus stop and she practically fell off her seat when you read [to her]the ads that were printed on the bench?

It will always be difficult for me to deal with your relationship with your father, so I'm not going to comment other than to say you had the advantage of a good gene pool. I agree that your dad's relatives are wonderful people.

1:19 PM  
Anonymous M-I-L said...

Brooke, do you realise how lucky you are to have known your dad? :-(

When you have children of your own you will appreciate what a big deal this is!

Bedtime here in the UK. May elaborate tomorrow :-/

xxxx

2:16 PM  
Blogger sit-slake-stir said...

It put a smile on my face to read your entry today. As you know, I am pretty much obsessed about the dynamics of a relationship between parent and child (if it wasn't already obvious anyway).

Maybe that was just his way of bonding with people. To question and to seek a different option. I admit, it would gain more information out of a person if all their actions were question for a different possible solution.

I have no idea what else I wanted to say here. It's escaped me.

Being someone who appreciates intelligence in all its forms, and commends words for what they really are, I am in awe of you being able to read at such a young age. That's pretty amazing.

And you once said something on my blog along the lines of having not much talent- well I have to object to that completely.

Your finesse with words is brilliant and I commend you on your ability to write so gracefully and convincingly.

Lissa.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous kg said...

brookie... you have always been genius material... the fact that your dad always used to question you and make you prove your worth should not haunt you as much anymore, as you have more than proven what a truly AMAZING woman you are in EVERY way...

yes, you are now walking thru winter, but SPRING is JUST around the corner...

love and aloha XOXO

8:59 AM  

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