My dad has been a closed man all his life. I call him a “vaulted” man because he’s fiercely closed off. Most of it is the time period he was born in. Men didn’t share feelings. They worked, provided for their families and moved along. My dad didn’t say, “I love you.” He didn’t hug or do anything touchy feely. He showed his love by working and feeding us.. We wanted to be closer to him because he was fun and funny, and he could make us laugh with his play on words. Alcohol robbed him and us of some beautiful memories, but I’m not complaining. I’m just stating the facts. However, the real truth is that If it weren’t for alcohol, I don’t know that I would know the man I know today. It shaped his character.
Fast forward, a lot of years, my dad is now over 25 years sober. He says, “I love you” on a pretty regular basis, but he still doesn’t say much. Most of my adult life our biggest topic was the weather. I remember times when I would just get mad that all we talked about was the weather. I just wanted to get to know him! I could see other people who had closer relationships to their fathers. Why couldn’t we have that? Why doesn’t he try?
As of late, my dad has allowed me to interview him so I can write his story. (more about that adventure soon because it’s cool story too!)
Because I love poetry so very much, and because I remember a time, many many years ago when dad loved poetry too, I I thought I would find a way we could write poems together. I thought this would add a nice personal touch to his book. He’s a word sleuth. He loves all things words like I do. So, I found a few formulaic poems and went from there. It would be like a puzzle to figure out just the perfect words to describe things. Dad has Alzheimer’s so the words don’t come as easily as they used to. So, I had a handy adjective list while I worked with him just in case he was searching and deserved some assistance.
We started with a Diamonte type poem because I thought it would be cool to compare the boy to the man. This process was confusing to him as first because our interviews are all by telephone, and he couldn’t see what I was asking him. But he trusted me, and because I presented it like a puzzle, his curious mind allowed him to play along.
It was a slow process because I would ask him for an adjective that would describe him as a boy. He’d give it to me, and then he’d be off running on telling me a story. Then, we’d come back to center, and I would ask for another adjective, and he’d give it to me and be off on another boyhood adventure. The words of his boyhood were pouring forth, and I began to realize what was important to my dad as a boy. I had NEVER heard any of these stories before.
It was beautiful. I was talking to my dad, and it wasn’t about the weather. It was about him. I was learning about him! It NEVER looks the way you want it to. It just is the way it is. The best thing to do is embrace what you have and enjoy the journey. We wrote a poem! I will turn it in later because it deserves a little polishing, and because I know dad would like it that way. He looks forward to my calls now. He is creating, and he is loving it. Where there was silence and void before, is full of life, purpose and meaning. We wrote a poem, and it was beautiful and lovely to me.
I love you daddy! I’m so glad you trusted me and that we are on this journey together.