I realized on my way home this evening, I've said very little about my father- very, very little. Nine times out of ten, if I'm talking about a parent, I'm talking about my mother and how awesome she is.
I suppose it's time that my dad got some floor time, too.
It's diplomatic to say that my father and I have had a stormy or non-existent relationship- but diplomacy in this case (as with so many) barely scratches the surface of the reality of things. Honestly, I've spent most of my life in an out-and-out brawl with my dad, or he's been far away on a job. It wasn't until I got older that I finally forgave my dad so many things I held against him and decided it was time that I try to build some sort of relationship-type thing with him.
See, my father and I have never agreed- on anything. We can't agree on people, directions, or even what color something is. And it'll sound something like this:
"Wow, that's a really pretty purple." (Me)
"That's not purple, it's deep blue." (Dad)
And then it's off to the races. And most of the time, as in the case with the color of something, it's a matter of perspective. My dad refuses to take his "eyes" out of the 1950s, while I live in a different universe all together. My father is also hard-headed about nearly everything, and loud and agressive about a great deal. Even at nearly 70, he'll still kick someone's ass.
What I figured out a long time ago is that I have a great deal of my father in me, and that he's just going to be what he's going to be without apology and without exception. With that in mind, I've learned the value of the phrase "agree to disagree". I ,also, refuse to back down from something that I believe is valid- I will also kick your ass.
Since learning to control myself better than he can control himself, I've learned a great deal about my dad- and heard so many interesting stories that I could fill a book.
My mother has gone back North to take care of my grandmother, which leaves me to take care of my father (because he's not very good at it by himself), and he's been sick. I've been dropping in on him, and coming to clean the house and all that good stuff, but today he called me- or in his words to my mother "he summoned me".
"Baby, I want you to come over in a little bit and make me some of that good Italian chicken. I've got a hankerin' for it, and I don't know how to make it."
Who can refuse that? So, I loaded up the tiller that I borrowed and some fresh banana bread I'd made, and went over to my father's house, where I learned that cooking Italian chicken was going to require much more than normal. For one, Dad didn't have spaghetti noodles or any tomato base. Secondly, he handed me a whole chicken to use. I went to the store and did some grocery shopping, then came back to face my nemesis: the whole chicken.
I cut a great many bones out just to get what I needed and left the rest in the fridge for him to de-bone (or to show me how to de-bone when he feels better). He kinda giggled at this, but I quickly corrected him: "I'm not trying to be a pansy-ass, I just don't know what the hell I'm doing. I'd rather you show me and save the chicken than me mangle it to pieces. Can you draw me a diagram? Mom's always bought boneless, skinless breasts." He couldn't draw me a diagram- so the chicken went in the fridge.
After all of that, and cooking for a few hours, I sat down with him in the living room. We started talking about a great many things- and Dad brought up the dumbasses that live around here, and the things they do. He said there was a guy that brought a video to work, and on this video, it showed this poor wild hog being held down by six men with razor wire around it's snout while a girl stabbed it to death. It took fourteen stabs to kill the hog- and it struggled and squealed and screamed until finally it bled out. The rest of the boys at work were laughing, and when Dad saw it, he told them they should be ashamed of themselves. "If you're gonna hunt, then hunt- this is torture and murder," he said. And when the boys asked if he hunted, he responded (per usual) with a story:
"I don't hunt anymore, but I used to. Last time I went huntin', I was sittin' in the woods with a clear view of a ridge in the middle of the Rockies, and it was beautiful....there were two bucks out there, and they were playing like children. When they came off that ridge, they passed right by me, like they knew I was there and wasn't gonna hurt 'em. And it was then that I realized it was so much better to watch them live than to watch them die."
There were a great many other things he and I talked about tonight, but that's the one that stands out so greatly in my mind. It's probably one that I'll never forget. It's so bone-chilling and savage what those people did- and so brilliant the way my father responded. It silenced them, made them think probably and give pause to what they had done. For me, it was a brilliant show of how deep my father's soul goes- that for all his bluster and pomp, my father truly has a good heart. I remember things like that more than anything when I think of my dad.
He's a gifted storyteller, to be sure. He's like the Forrest Gump (sans mental and physical challenges)- he's seen it all, been involved in all the major things of history. He flew for NASA in the 60s, for example, during the Space Race. He was in Cuba for the Cuban Missile Crisis. He went to Woodstock, and a Fourth of July celebration at Willie Nelson's place. He's lived all over the world, and he's seen what seems to be everything.
He's also a man of mind-blowing contradictions, many of which we've had fights over. There's been many times when he's said things to which I responded "how can you be so smart and so well-rounded and say something so ignorant?" My father thinks my political, social, and environmental ideals are absurd, and has no problem telling me so. Since becoming an adult, this has been where the majority of our fights have stemmed. Tonight, he conceded (finally) that he does indeed start all those fights- to which I replied "yes, you start all of them. But I end every one of them when I walk out the door." And we both laughed.
Despite all our differences (and likenesses, which sometimes cause more problems than the differences ever could), I love my father and he loves me. If ever I were in a war, I'd want him by my side because, even if he didn't agree with me, he'd always have me covered. Our loyalty and love far outweighs our differences.
My father is a good man.