Wednesday, April 26, 2017

BAD DADS (cont'd)

Following up on our previous story, "Tumbleweeds and Crabgrass," here's another one about bad parenting. Its author asked me to withhold it for the longest time, but was perhaps emboldened when he saw that he was not alone. In the intimate, soul-searching experiences I've had in men's circles over the years (25 of them, since I first started this challenging and rewarding work,) I have heard more stories about men failing the test of fatherhood than I can count. The wounds run deep, and last often well into adulthood. There are those, I'm sure, who never do recover. There are those who spend years in therapy--not to mention a ton of money!--as a result. And there are those, of course, who simply breeze past the experienced put it all behind them. As the author of "Tumbleweeds" wrote to me after the appearance of his story: "So long ago. Forgive and forget."

By Stuart Rapeport

I have a handful of primary remembrances of my father, mostly kind of sad. I have pushed them out of my consciousness for the most part, but...

After one of his big fights with my mother over some trivial thing, he thought he and I should drive off and leave her behind. I must have been around five years old. I had a shitfit and cried and cried until he drove us back home.

Then I recall a time in our old Hudson when the doors flew open and we almost fell out when the car made a right turn. It was raining real hard. This was before Ballona Creek was a concrete storm drain and the water was way above the curbs, I was doing my screaming and I recall watching the water rush by as I held onto my older sister, then the car straightened out and the door slammed shut.

I want to remember something positive, though. When I was thirteen he gave me a nice signet ring for my Bar Mitzvah. I gave it to a girl in high school and never saw her or the ring again.

While planning my sister's wedding I found him alone in the master bedroom, crying. He said he was crying because he felt bad he didn’t have the money to provide her a big wedding.

I saw him cry one other time, when his father died.

I now believe his detached parenting was result of his WW2 experiences. He did get a Purple Heart while in the Army. He fought in the South Pacific, but he never told us what he did or what happened; he refused to talk about it.

If I think hard I seem to recall going with him to the local deli sometimes on a Sunday to buy bagels. But mostly he worked on Sunday so I’m not sure how that could have happened.

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