My sister reads me two letters that she has found among our father’s papers. One was a letter to me on my 16th birthday. By the end, both my sister and I were crying. He loved me so purely.
My sister must tell me that he never wrote a letter to her like that. I respond:
“since he never gave it to me, does it count?”
Both of us know it does. The letter is very beautiful; my dad talks about the joy I have given my parents, and how wonderful I was despite our differences, because of my compassion, caring and generosity.
He talked about what a beautiful wonderful baby I had been.
As I was perfect up to the age of nine, it has always been hard for me to compete with Pia, the very early days in family lore.
My rebellion against my dad had begun in earnest two years earlier and would last nine more years. My father’s temper was fierce; he was always right.
It’s hard for a daughter to admit that she’s the person her father most loved in the world. He loved my mother very very much. He never tried to do anything yucky to me. I don’t know why I feel compelled to add the last two sentences, but if I don’t…people might add that to the list of my immoral acts.
I was almost forced into rebellion by his raging love; and have never regreted a moment of the rebellious years. Despite myself at times, I was independent and strong. In order not to be swallowed by want to live my life for me and to protect me, I had to maintain my distance. My dad understood.
Even in high school I had a whole other seperate city life. My parents didn’t try to keep me in the suburbs. The Village beckoned and greeted me with open arms as it did so many other teenagers. I knew my dad was secretly proud that I fit in so well there, and had stopped caring what the people in our suburb thought of me when I finished Junior High. Actually I cared too much but wouldn’t let anybody know that.
We always stayed in touch, and saw each other. When I lived in Cambridge, and took statistics during the summer so that it would be shorter, I would fly to New York almost every weekend so that he could tutor me.
Somehow statistics made sense to me. We would talk about them in the larger context of life. For the first time, my dad, the CPA, investor, large stake poker player, and owner of four successful stores, saw that I had a good business head. Statistics helped our rapprochement.
My father wouldn’t have been suprised that I breezed through the statistical part of my full year grad research course, and did even better in post grad statistical research. It’s all done on computer and is a matter of knowing what figures to plug in and why. My dad had given much more difficult assignments years before that weren’t done on computer.
My sister seems to remember his temper more and more now; I never forgot it so it was easier for me to confront my feelings about it. Uh, therapy on and off my whole life until ten years ago helped also. As does the knowledge that my dad helped make the world a more fun, nicer place.
My father was compassionate, caring and generous. When people asked him for help he almost always complied; and if he didn’t, there was a damn good reason.
I realize that I’m talking in abstractions. It’s so easy to record the fights; and so hard to record the good times. For several years before his death I asked if I could video him. He always said no. Now I understand that though he was in good health he wanted to stave off the kinehorah (evil eye) by not recording his memories.
I will explore our fights. There were some great ones