[continuing from previous blog]
LATER IN THE DAY, Memorial Day 1983
That evening, I called my father, and asked him if he had a minute.
“Sure,” he said, “what’s up?”
“I just wanted you to know that I really have appreciated all the things you’ve done for me all my life. I know that at times I have seemed very disrespectful, but I….
“Is something wrong?” he asked. “Do you need money?”
“No, no, no. I don’t need money. No, nothing’s wrong. I was just thinking about you today, and how we never talk, and I just wanted you to know that I really appreciate you and really love you.”
I think that was the first time I ever told my father that I loved him.
“What’s wrong,” he asked more firmly, “are you in some sort of trouble?”
“No, I’m not in any trouble at all, I just…”
“This doesn’t sound like you, something must be wrong…”
“No, nothing’s wrong. I just realized that we rarely talk. Today seemed like as good a day as any to tell you that I appreciate you.” I had momentarily thought that I would explain to him that I’d attended the event earlier in the day, and let him know that he was part of my exercise. But somehow, if I did that, I felt it would diminish what I was saying to my father, that it was some sort of school assignment or exercise. Rather than regard it as something genuine coming from me, he would think that I was in the clutches of a controlling cult and was just acting out their dictates. This had to be real. This had to be from me, because I wanted to communicate these things to him.
“Well, OK,” he responded. He paused, and said, “Are you coming over for dinner?”
“No, not tonight, but I’ll see you tomorrow.”
It was the beginning of a thaw in our relationship. There was not an instant turnaround in the way we related to each other, but slowly, slowly, I began to view him as a distinct individual, and slowly, I could tell that he did the same with me.
The following day, I told Dolores how my father reacted.
“That sounds just like your father,” she laughed. We both found the exchange hillarious, and we could not stop laughing about it.
We went to dinner that night and we continued to talk about my father’s suspicious nature, and we laughed like children. It felt very good to laugh with Dolores. It was a light time, and somehow, laughing together made us closer. It also shifted the focus from problems we were having, to my father’s character, and in that moment, it was a good thing.