Thursday, August 27, 2009


I used to draw my Dad a lot when I was little. He was a mystery man because he was rarely home. When he was home, he was fun. It was a relief from a mother I found harsh. She would put red pepper on our tongues for saying things like "pee pee" and "poo poo," and the dreaded "shut up." I was led to believe all mothers did this. Later, I found out this was abuse.

Dad would sweep into the house and throw us in the air (much to Mother's horror) and jostle us around and play games with us. My favorite one was where he would have one of us push the tip of his nose. Out would fly his tongue. Then we would pull an ear. His tongue would dart to that side. We'd pull the other ear and whoosh, there would go his tongue, gliding to the other side. This would go on for several minutes and then one of us would push the nose and instantly his tongue would retreat.

He had a briefcase that we were forbidden to look in. He had a lot of important papers in it from the bank, I suppose. I used to imagine this is where he hid his gun. My fantasies would alternate between his being the bank robber or the F.B.I. agent. He was a most fantastical person in my mind. I had him being every kind of extraordinary character imaginable.
It's easy to create a fantasy person when the visible clues you are going on are absent and sketchy. Perhaps that's why I was always sketching him (tee-hee, just thought of that).

Dad was the fun one on trips. We would make up songs and he would try to teach us to yodel to an old German tune his mother had taught him, "Baldle-adle-oodle-yawdle-dooh-hee." We'd be singing along and if one of us spotted a Dairy Queen, Dad would stop. It seemed like Mother frowned the whole way on trips. In retrospect, this 'bad cop, good cop' thing was probably pretty hard on Mom.

At Christmas, Dad always had creative ways for giving us money. Because he worked at a bank, he was able to give us crisp new bills in a thick notepad-type thing. One year he spelled out our names in quarters in cake pans, then filled them with water and froze them. The card said, "This is your cold, hard cash." Dad was a feast of excitement and delight, but it was a movable feast that mostly chose to move away from us.

When Mother was critical or harsh with Dad (and she was, more than she was not), I used to lie awake at night imagining their divorce and how I would go with my Dad. I thought things would be so much better then because I could be with him all the time.

When I was about 10, I had a Birthday and Mom let Dad choose the present for me. It was a huge set of Disney Pez dispensers with a lot of refills. Mother's face was in the usual frown when she saw it, accompanied by her famous toe-tap. "Too much sugar!" It was the best present I ever got all on it's own, but made even more so because it displeased Mother. I think I even slept with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy, dispensing and nibbling away all night.

When Dad died, I had a most interesting experience. I had been doing the 'Morning Pages' from Artist's Way for about 6 weeks, so I was writing along, in my stream-of-consciousness mode, when out of the blue I started writing, "Go to the bank. What? Who is this? It's your Dad. Go to the bank." So I got dressed and went to the bank. I didn't know what I was doing there. I thought maybe there was some important business papers left on his desk. I found the appropriate people who could let me into his office and I rummaged around for about an hour, with various colleagues sticking their heads in to offer condolences. Finally, I acknowledged I was crazy and headed for the elevator. Someone I recognized as a friend of Dad's stopped me to offer sympathy. His attorney's office was in the same building. As we were parting ways, he said, "Oh, I have your Dad's Funeral Talk that he wrote." I knew instantly that was why I was there. It would be just like Dad to want control to the end, and then some. I suppose this man would have gotten it to Mother eventually, but I'm sure Dad, in his other-worldly maneuverings, had to make sure it was accomplished.

Experts (who are these people, anyway?) say that the kind of relationship we have with a father on earth determines how we view our Father in Heaven. Wow! No wonder I have had to work so hard to have a personal relationship with my ever-changing concept of What That Is. I find them both delightful, but distant. This is my challenge.

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