Friday, June 18, 2010

Father's Day

I always equated Father's day with the word "lack". I'm glad it falls in the summer because in school, I would've spent every one of those holidays thinking about a dad that I didn't have or drawing fake pictures to frame and throw away on the way home.

My dad was killed by a drunk driver when my mom was about 2 weeks pregnant with me. He worked in a logging camp for two weeks as the choker setter and then drove home for a time, then went back on out. My mom never had the opportunity to tell him about me. This is not my tragedy, it's my mothers. The accident left my mom alone with all those children, one on the way, a high school diploma and no discernible skills beyond "housewife". Really, in the grand scheme of things, I feel worst for her.

She did the best she could. My grandparents didn't believe in offering much beyond moral support, and Mom didn't have a lot of resources since she got married at the age of 18 and was a widow by the age of 26. I've had a slew of step-dads. My mom married 5 more times. Some were ok; some were awful. I think of my uncomfortable childhood, fraught with hand-me-downs from my sisters and wondering where we were going to live next week. I was incredibly lucky- I liked my sisters' clothes and made friends wherever I went. I was often shielded from the worst and sometimes from the best.

The only constant men in my life were my Grandpa and my Uncle Steve- my mom's brother. I've written a lot about my Grandad, but little about Steve, whom we called "Uncle TB" since we were tots. Steve and my Aunt Karla let me come stay with them for a few days or a week every summer. Awesome fun because I would go from being the youngest to the oldest, and a help to my Aunt (or so she said). I loved playing with my younger cousins, who have grown into some of my favorite people. I felt special because I was the only one who got to go- my other sisters never spent time in Pomeroy or Reardan the way I did. My aunt and uncle probably don't realize what that time meant to me- a reprieve from the oppressiveness of my house and order and cooperation and rules that were expected and enforced. As an adult, I've moved around a lot and have only reconnected with that part of my family in the last five years. They're pretty awesome people and the still hang together.

This will be my first Father's day without my Grandpa. I usually call and send him a card. He'd call me "peanut" (nobody else ever called me that) and ask about the weather in Oklahoma and whether or not I'd ever get a good job with the government. And before we'd hang up, just like he did with all of his granddaughters, we'd say that we loved each other. With my Grandma in a nursing home, for the first time, there won't be someone to answer when I dial 509-382-4063, the way there has been for the last 60 years (I remember that they had a party line up until the 1980's). It makes me sad, of course. But life is about resilience and getting on with getting on. Maybe I'll give my uncle a call. Maybe I'll give my mom a call too, just to chat and see how she's doing.

I'm not sure that I feel a lack of anything today. I've been fortunate these last few years for good friends and -especially this last year- in love. Luke left with his dad yesterday to go to Lake Texhoma for the night just to hang out together at the summer house and fix some doodad on the boat down there. His dad is very affectionate towards him, which I didn't expect given the self-proclaimed rampant redneck-idiness. It's pretty neat to watch.

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