Monday, April 17, 2006
Our Fathers
"Our fathers were our models for God. If our fathers bailed, what does that tell you about God?"-Tyler Durden, Fight Club.

A friend of mine is in desperate straits, and I can hear the agony in her voice. I recognize it as my own. It is the voice of a woman who is beginning to discover she was abandoned by her father.

We were not children who were abandoned in the sense of 'failing to pay child support'. Our Fathers were always around, they just didn't talk to us. They didn't know what to say to us. At a certain point, we became aliens. Our Fathers had to think about work, or another drink, or a football game, or how to keep a wife happy. Our Fathers scolded us, or grew impatient with us when we couldn't tell the difference between a socket wrench and a screwdriver. Our Fathers seemed boorish and indifferent.

Our Fathers each forgot to pick us up from school. It took my parents ten minutes to realize I wasn't at home. I don't know how long it took my friend's parents to come to the same realization. We heard their apologies, and were so grateful to be recognized for one instant--"They MISSED me!"--that we forgave them instantly for forgetting. Our Fathers felt guilty, so they bought us each an ice cream cone and said, "Atta girl!"

Our Fathers got us into college. And we promptly fell apart.

We drank too much. We fooled around with worthless guys. We got addicted to certain herbs. We forgot to go to class. One of us managed to get through college within four years, despite a brief respite at a mental hospital. The other one flunked out of college. She returned a few years later--after she buried her father. She graduated and went to work as a social worker.

I got out of the mental hospital and graduated with a 3.4 GPA. I went to work as a social worker.

We started to take care of everyone else, because that's what we do--we take care of Our Fathers. We look the other way when their words stumble together from alcohol. We blink away tears when we are overlooked, because we are praying for the next interlude when Our Fathers ask us to grab a socket wrench (I'll grab the right one and maybe he'll say 'Atta girl!'). My friend went home when her father suffered a brain injury. And she kept him from eating dog food or mowing the lawn after it rained. And when he died, she called the ambulance and sat very still, waiting for her father's last ride.

My story is very different. I graduated, and slowly became a person to my father. The other night, he asked me why I didn't think about running for public office at some point. He blessed Michael's wish to marry me. He gave me a hug on Easter, and he squeezed. I've finally met my father.

My friend doesn't have this luxury of re-introducing herself to her father. She is still waiting to be picked up at school. And she is confronted once again with being left behind. It is the most terrifying feeling in the world. While she feels chaos blooming all around her, she is thinking to herself, "Who do I care for now? Who else needs my help?"

If she only knew that her Father would say, "You need your help, my little lamb."

We will continue to say our Hail Mary's, and hope that our stubborn moral codes be validated the next time we see Our Fathers. We will come to understand--we do not need to leave ourselves behind.

What good dad would want to see a daughter suffer?

To my friend: I will never abandon you. You will not be left behind.
Written by FRITZ
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Name: Fritz

Location: Detroit Rock City!
Where the weak are killed and eaten

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    We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. Through the unknown, unremembered gate When the last of earth left to discover Is that which was the beginning; At the source of the longest river The voice of the hidden waterfall And the children in the apple-tree Not known, because not looked for But heard, half-heard, in the stillness Between two waves of the sea. Quick now, here, now, always— A condition of complete simplicity (Costing not less than everything) And all shall be well and All manner of thing shall be well When the tongues of flame are in-folded Into the crowned knot of fire And the fire and the rose are one. -T.S. Eliot "Little Gidding"

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