We’ll Take That Ride

I love my father. I always have. But I love him a whole lot less when he gets “stranded” West of Louisville trying to sneak past us without seeing my kids. Which may be fine if I didn’t have to know about it. But he got caught. And I had to save him. Again.

He is an honest man. A responsible man. But in this last year I have watched him make some God awful questionable decisions. And they’ve all had to do with my family. It’s getting more difficult not to take it personally.

When I moved away from home, he gave me more than my fair share of shit. When I would mention my parents lack of seeing their grandchildren, his favorite phrase became, “Well…*you* moved”. And also…”People move away to *get* away”. I was ‘people’ in that proposal, I guess. The purpose for that one always struck me as guilt, because I felt he knew better. As I understood it, every move he had ever made in his life had been for better opportunity for him and everyone he brought with him. But maybe there was more to it that I never understood, after all, I knew him to live by his own aphorisms. If not truly for opportunity, maybe he, himself, had always been trying to get away. I don’t know.

He came to us ailing last year in May. So there was a time, a short time where I saw his softer and more vulnerable side. A short time. In keeping with precedent, as it’s always been prone to do, our honeymoon ended quickly. He is nothing if not consistent. And it was a rough go that lasted until December. He chose to leave my kids at Christmas to go see a buddy in St. Louis. This same buddy he was road tripping past us to see last week when his transmission gave out. It was then he needed me. As he needed me last year when he hadn’t taken care of his own health. He used to say to all of us that no one needed him until the world falls in. Now here I stand, as his world falls in. Repeatedly. And my position is only to wait until such time it happens again.

This may be what it was that he felt long ago. As a provider and disciplinarian. Maybe not much else. That he was only a Saver. He used to say he was the “Fixer”. I always thought he took pride in that. But I can see now how being needed emergently can come awfully close to offensive when you don’t feel you serve much other purpose to someone. In his case though, if he had been willing to be more to us than a Saver, he would have been. But he is a very difficult man to get close to. And that has never changed. But he is consistent. So we learned to count on what we counted on, and not on what we couldn’t.

I see him here with my kids. With me. As I did as a child. I see the limits of his tolerance reached. I see the unbending opinions pushed. I watch the patience slam to an abrupt stop. The lectures ahead. The voice raised. I see his old ways of force. It is hard not to take it personally, for my kids now. So I struggle to always remind myself of something. This isn’t new. It isn’t particular to my children. He is consistent. And he never really was one for the stress of the many variables of family life. He did sign on long ago, but I don’t think he knew the fine print held a lifetime of ups and downs full of hardship. Things he couldn’t control. People he couldn’t control. And more loss than he would have ever agreed to. Things he couldn’t Fix.

So I let him carry on for these times he’s around. Because he was our Fixer. And he isn’t anymore. I know that’s hard for him. I know the loss of a controlled life is hard for him. Same as I know having people to answer to his whole life saved him. In a place I don’t like to think about, I feel he was always trying to move away to *get* away. But the responsible and honest man in him brought us along each time. He wouldn’t have done that differently even if he could have. It wasn’t in him to do it another way.

He doesn’t have anyone to save anymore. He doesn’t have anyone to answer to anymore. This is something he can’t fix. It is something I can’t fix. So I will continue to save him as many times as he tries to get away. Even if that is all he needs from me. It will always be hard not to take it personally. But I figure by now I owe him one. Or a million.

Be well, Friends

Well, we know where we’re goin’
But we don’t know where we’ve been
And we know what we’re knowin’
But we can’t say what we’ve seen.

And we’re not little children
And we know what we want
And the future is certain
Give us time to work it out.

D. Byrne

27 thoughts on “We’ll Take That Ride

  1. This touches on so many sore spots for me because I see so many echos of my own experiences. I won’t give my opinions and thoughts on that because 1) you haven’t asked for them and 2) what worked to keep my heart whole most likely wouldn’t be what you need for yours. I can just offer you understanding with your struggle and hope that you do find what you need to keep your heart whole, or as whole as anyone can expect to keep it throughout life.

    1. No I understand that, I do! I always love your insight. I figure we all have such a deep history with our parents and these other close family members and by this point we have learned our navigation path (or crash) through certain situations with them. It wasn’t until well after my first child that I even started to accept that he was what he was and I was going to have to let go of any hope for change. It’s hard taking the same things all over again but this time for my own humans.

  2. I find myself in a role reversal with my mother. Like you, I figure I kinda owe her a few. I love your insight and understanding of the man your father is. When we’re younger, our parents aren’t *people*. We don’t think about their struggles and baggage.
    Not that my opinion means anything, but I think you’ve got the right attitude about this. Just keep reminding yourself that it isn’t a calculated snub!💌

    1. I have thought *often* as a grown up that my parents could not possibly have been the same people who raised me. It brought a lot of awareness to what has probably always been the reality, but right, when we’re younger the view is so so different! And yes of course your opinion matters! 🤗

  3. It is with sadness that I understand. I have been on both sides. The fixer and the fixed. My husband and I have come to realize that we must old that string, no matter how tenuously, until they come around, or things come to an end. Either way, as you say, it isn’t personal. It is predictable. My heart and prayers go out for you while you hold the basket, and catch all the pieces, or hold that string, whichever is appropriate. Thank you for sharing, even though I am aware of the pain it probably caused.

    1. I have definitely been both as well 😔 It’s the cycle of these things I think. Thank you for your understanding, I think letting go of hope for a change in him for my kids makes it a little easier to bear and accept him as is. Even if the predictability remains a sore point….at least I know what I’m getting with him. That’s a benefit in a way I guess.

  4. This is so relevant Sam. I have complete empathy for you. Too many people operate from a place of retribution, retaliation and continuing patterns of unhealthy relationships. You are breaking a cycle which is healing for you. Even if your Dad never seems to change, your ability to understand him in ways others may not will keep your own heart from suffering more. You are also breaking a chain as a good example for your beautiful children. Hugs

    1. Thank you, friend 🤗. I learned a while ago that me confronting him is one of a very few things that breaks his heart. When we were young it made him furious. But knowing now that it hurts him, and genuinely, it makes me more tolerant of him. I’m content to let him survive his own way through this hard period in his life. The window on change for him is closed, you know. But it opens my eyes to myself *whenever* he’s in my home!

      1. I do well understand where you are, but for me it is my spouse. Without going into details, it really is monumental when you come to understand that most people with seemingly unbending personalities are tortured in ways we don’t see for too long. I realized awhile ago that instead of trying so hard to change another person I would change the only thing I could. By changing how I reacted to certain things, the outcome also begun to change. For me, though, love trumps winning every time.
        PS. Please repair my typos above. I was on my little phone typing! 🙄

        1. Reaction is so often key in finding peace in a situation! Love over winning any day of the week, I agree 100%

  5. “He did sign on long ago, but I don’t think he knew the fine print held a lifetime of ups and downs full of hardship.” Really tremendous insight and relatable. Great post

    1. Thank you so much, Robyn 🤗🤗🤗

  6. Nice share Sam….we take over roles we didn’t know needed to be filled…

  7. I know this pain, but I also have worked pretty hard the past few years to detach so not preaching. I know you have, too. I find reading the Spiritual Laws of responsibility so incredibly helpful. I’m a Jesus gal, but I have to admit that I am learning so much from other ways of thinking. I don’t know if this will speak to you but here it is. https://bodysoulmind.net/spiritual-law-of-responsibility

    1. I think the only thing I need to detach from is guilt, Catholic or otherwise!…that’s my biggie that causes so much regret and keeps me bound to old hurts. Other than that, I’m definitely a wallower until it’s worked it’s way through! This is interesting, I will check it out thank you!

  8. To finally be able to understand our parents from the perspective OF a parent, and as we age and mature……is priceless. It doesn’t “fix” everything. Or anything. But it does lend to our ability to possibly forgive some past hurts, not excusing bad behavior, just a simple understanding that, for the most part, they were doing the best they could with what they had- physically AND emotionally. And the emotional stuff comes from their own set of baggage, much of which we may never understand if they don’t or can’t share it.

    1. This is honestly one of those instances where…yeah, you sort of do make ‘excuses’ for someone in a sense in order to help with forgiveness. Generationally speaking, too, he did better, or was at least different in some better ways than his dad. And at that time, parents weren’t always actively seeking to be better than their own. They just…didn’t know what they didn’t know 😣😣😣

      1. Exactly. I relate. I know people in my parents’ generation that have grown, evolved, more than others. So, it’s not the *best* excuse, but it does explain a lot of things and, as you said, it helps with extending some grace.

        I marvel at how much my Dad has mellowed on some things, but still has his moments where I’m like, “Yep. There’s the guy that raised me. I recognize that.”

        Sometimes I wonder what the hell I’m doing by moving next door!

        1. Sweet lord, yep. Whenever J mouths off to him he just looks at me like “what the hell but okay”. Where we would have had to make a run for the door after backtalking. I always say “Don’t make grampa go all 1986 on you!” Other times I see that old him. And I have to give my kids the speech that he’s just how he is. That’s all I can say.

          Because it’s the circle of life! You are symbolically “joining the stampede”

          1. 🤠 well yeehaw. 🤣🤣🤣

  9. Sam, you are a good son. Deep down I suspect your dad knows and appreciates that even if he can’t say so.Being there for him is being true to yourself and your values too. You are teaching valuable lessons to your own children. They may not understand or appreciate it now, but they will get there one day. And in getting there, they will know your heart

    1. Thank you so much…I think he does know. I think he’s also struggled with some quiet jealousies through the years as he sees more of what he didn’t do. And what he wasn’t. It caused many battles, until I didn’t let it anymore. I would never put that on him, but I also know he’s reached the phase where he does have to come to term with a lot of his mistakes, like we all do. Sigh.

  10. So true and heartbreaking, yet hopeful. You’re a good son.

  11. Been on both sides of this, never felt good. Guilt and sadness. I once drove through my dad’s town on a road trip on Christmas without telling him. We had a sorted past. Nobody, and I mean nobody would blame me, accept me. But he’d done the same, so tit for tat? Reminds me of the song…Cat’s in the cradle. 🙂

    1. Ug, yes! I snuck in and out of his town to see friends a few times too i suppose!

  12. Relationships with parents can be so hard. I am sorry you and your girls have do to deal with this pain. And good job for the work you are doing in moving past your dad’s mistakes.

    1. He is going home this weekend, just in time! I have to take my hardest looks at and through him when he’s in my home. It’s very tiring but all necessary. Thank you so much 🤗

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