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In the spirit of Father’s Day, let’s celebrate dads. Mine, for taking me fishing, even though I threw everything back.
Someone else I know slightly – a local photographer/professor/poet/ex-priest – recalled how his father always had a martini every day of his life, until he was hospitalized during his final illness. And so, out of love and compassion, the son brought his semi-comatose father a last martini in the hospital, smuggled past the nurses and attendants, in a small screw-top aluminum film container.
He gently gave it to his father who, even in a semi-conscious state, slurped it up with relish, then died the next day. So, instead of the awful death-rattle of Cheyne-Stokes breathing, my friend has this poignant memory of his father’s ultimate moment of pleasure.
And then there’s this riveting father-son correspondence a reader sent me:
Dad, first of all I want to say I am sorry for the hurt you feel as well as the way I ignored your calls over the past couple weeks. That was wrong of me.
Dad, this relationship is not what I imagined a father/son relationship to be. So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to give you a list of things I cannot handle as topics of conversation.
Do not blame me for problems in your life. Your life is your life – where you are at is a product of the way you have run it.
I don’t want to hear how the world screwed you. I don’t want to hear how everybody else is the problem and you have nothing to change.
I don’t want to talk about your 25 years of marriage with Mom. That’s in the past and that was your relationship with her. I’m only a product of it.
I don’t want to talk about your problems with [my sister] or with Mom – that’s not our relationship. Our relationship exist between you and me.
I don’t want to hear about how you have been abandoned by everybody.
I don’t want to talk about your problems – if things are not going well just simply tell me things are not going well.
I don’t want to you to lecture me, on anything. I need the freedom to ask questions as I need to and give feedback on what you have presented to me.
I don’t want you to tell me how I should be living my life. You have your life; I have mine. Neither of us should be telling the other what to do, only offering our thoughts when asked.
I don’t want you to ridicule me for my college years, I don’t want to hear that [X College] was a bad choice, I don’t want to hear how if I had listened you would have told me to go to [X State] and things would have been perfect. I also don’t want to hear how I should have graduated in three years.
I don’t want you to tell me what I should become or the profession to go into. I want to explore and see where I end up, that’s part of me becoming my own man.
I don’t want advice on the type of women I should be interested in or how I should conduct my romantic life – if I have a question I will ask you.
I don’t want you to tell me I am going to be a failure and end up in the same boat you are. I have too much life between now and 50, and I am a different human being, so let’s not throw out false prophecies.
I don’t want you to compare my relationship with you to your relationship with Grandpa – they are very different relationships and you and I are not the same person. Please don’t expect me to treat you the way you treated Grandpa. I’m not going to do tricks for your love – that’s not love.
Finally, Dad, I want you to know if you [disregard] these boundaries, that will inhibit our ability to have a healthy relationship. The consequences … will include decreased frequency in our interactions as well as less depth.
I want to be able to add other things to this list.
I want you to have the freedom to come up with a list of things you don’t want to talk about, if you need to.
I want you to be free to call me and me free to call you.
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