Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Beautiful dads

When I pass Zenita in the hallway, I touch her arm, or stroke her hair, or bend to kiss her. I was looking at her at the breakfast table and she is growing into a beautiful little girl. She is the spit of her mother. It is curious that she and Naughtyman were born at the same time because they are so different.

I hug Naughtyman too, when we are in the same space. He will not always let you hold him -- he has so much else to do: usually involving the computer. But Zenella will always stop to be cuddled. She craves affection, the constant demonstration that she is loved. When you upset her, she will shout, you don't love me.

I do love her. She cannot doubt it. It is part of who I am in the deepest sense to want to show people I love that I love them, to give them affection, to be close to them and let them feel wanted and needed. It was one of the hardest things in my failed marriage when Mrs Zen turned away from me in our bed and stopped wanted to be held at night. There is nothing worse for me than for someone to tell me, to show me, I do not want you to love me any more.

I did not know this so clearly before I moved back here. But I learned it when I had children, how important it was to me. I understand it very well, why it is. When I was a little boy, my dad would often show me physical affection. When he came home from work, he would have us one by one in his lap and cuddle us, and he would often play roughhouse with me on the carpet. My mum would be angry because she thought it was dangerous, but I wasn't fragile, and I was delighted to be close to my dad. I would kiss him goodnight every night, until he told me not to.

I don't know why he stopped wanting me to know he loved me. I don't believe he stopped loving me, but it felt like it. I think the only times my dad touched me in my teens were the couple of occasions he punched me. I remember, very distantly, his talking to me about how men kissing each other was gay, and I think that is why he stopped wanting me to kiss him goodnight. I would not have stopped. I didn't stop loving him or wanting him to love me, no matter what he did or said to me. Today, we sometimes have a stiff, uncomfortable hug when we meet. It doesn't come naturally to him but it means a lot to me: I know he loves me. My beautiful dad, that damaged little boy who seems forever distanced from himself, inside him a soul that no one can touch, I know he loves me and that is all I want, or have ever wanted, from him.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As always your writing is beautiful...The way you love our children is second to none, they are very very lucky to have you as a Dad and I have been very lucky to have had your love in my life as, as you know, you were the one who showed me how to love. I am sorry we have lost it now but we will always have these amazing children that we have created and I will always love that part of you who is that little boy playing rough with your Dad, that little beautiful boy that is inside you that I miss, you are so sweet and lovely but you don't come out to play as much any more and that is very sad. I know you will find him again though, as that is who you truly are. love Mrs Zen

November 5, 2009 at 12:18 AM  
Blogger Looney said...

I only didn't kiss my dad when he was far away, up until the day he died. I kissed him on that day too, and I miss those moments very much...

November 6, 2009 at 6:27 AM  
Blogger Don said...

It's interesting how a loving and then cruel father will plant the seeds of openness to love such that you can live it and express it, while a distant and yet always civilized father will not do so, such that I can only love deep inside where no one will ever see, unless they are particularly wise and sensitive.

November 13, 2009 at 7:46 AM  
Blogger Dr Zen said...

When I was younger, I had the strong belief that you can break the bonds of your genes and upbringing. Turns out I was wrong, but at least pretending that we can may be your way forward, Don.

November 13, 2009 at 8:04 AM  
Blogger Don said...

Oh, no doubt. I tell my sons I love them, and they get hugs. I never doubted my father's love but he never mentioned it. So there's a bit of progress.

November 13, 2009 at 3:27 PM  
Blogger Dr Zen said...

I think it's part of respecting our fathers, to be careful about working out where their flaws led them to do wrong and try in our own lives not to let our own flaws lead us to do the same wrong. We will, sadly, do enough wrongs of our own.

November 13, 2009 at 3:39 PM  
Blogger Father Luke said...

Unfortunately my Father fell from the crow's nest of a ship onto the ship's deck, which induced massive head injuries that he never seemed to recover from. He was prone to fits of violence, and was never treated for the psychological injuries.

Never the less, I loved him. His flaws, aside from the injuries, are very hard to disentangle. He lives in a world of his own making, not so closely aligned with those around him, and I'm sad he never had a fulfilling family life.

I love Jenifer's children with all my capabilities. Despite my flaws, i.e. choices which may have led to the poverty I experience and the other peculiarities of my make up, I love her children joyously, and with all my heart.

I do know that, as my Father told me, I shall be old fashioned to them, as he was to me, and as his father was to him.

Each in turn will be unable to measure up to the expectations of the new generation, and the pure joy of living will be all that's left. Such as it is.

Life, as they say, goes on.

Tip of the hat to Mrs Z. Beautiful, indeed. Dear.

And thanks.

- -
Okay,
Father Luke

November 15, 2009 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Looney said...

I think it's part of respecting our fathers, to be careful about working out where their flaws led them to do wrong and try in our own lives not to let our own flaws lead us to do the same wrong. We will, sadly, do enough wrongs of our own.

This. Quite.

November 16, 2009 at 2:28 AM  
Blogger Looney said...

When I was younger, I had the strong belief that you can break the bonds of your genes and upbringing. Turns out I was wrong, but at least pretending that we can may be your way forward, Don.

I was going to disagree with you at first, but I realized I would be wrong to do so. I didn't break the bonds of my genes, rather fulfilled them, as I was not saddled with the cycle of abuse, abandonment, self-hatred, substance-abuse, and psychological wreckage that my father was. My mama has always said that when my dad was around and sober, that he was a great dad. I'm hoping that I can carry on that little part of his legacy, as a salve to the painful maze his life was.

November 17, 2009 at 6:35 PM  

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