Monday, May 23, 2011

My mother makes hats, sometimes my father makes things too.

As many may know, I graduated from Tufts University School of Medicine over the weekend. I'm no medical doctor, but I'll save my accomplishment for another day, another blog. It's really not the event of focus, though it provided an opportunity for one; a really really big one at that.

So, I guess I'll start from the top/bottom, whichever.

I didn't grow up with my dad, really. I kind of almost didn't grow up with anyone at all. Excrutiatingly long story short, I'll say this: things didn't start out well, and if they did, I don't remember them 100%. I lived with my mom in a studio apartment. Sometimes we lived on the street. Later I lived with my Gram. And I did so, stably for eleven years. I saw my parents on weekends. In week long bursts sometimes. Sometimes they could handle it/me. Sometimes they couldn't.

But, I knew why. My mother was, as we all referred to her, "sick".
I told folks she had a chronic disease. To some I said she passed away. In my heart, on some days, she had. In my heart, some days, it would have been so much easier if she did. It wasn't right, but it was how I felt.

And I had those folks who hated my parents for how bad they'd done me. Leaving me. And so, I was for years anti-parents, or actually, anti my parents. I kind of had to be. Perhaps, during those years, I was dead to them too. Perhaps it would have made their pain less burdensome.

I never really allowed the blame I had to truly extend toward my mom, never allowed it to seep and spread, disease-like into my soul. It remained topical. Treatable. Seasonal. I got over it enough to remind myself;you know, she's not well. I saw (and still see) mental illness as a chronic disease. A hardship.

But I was so very angry with my father. I called him (if I needed to refer to him at all)) by his first name. I avoided him. Downtown Boston. Places we'd walked during the lean years. I encouraged additional lean years. I couldn't forgive him the loneliness. The separation. The never really fighting for me. The weeks where I hadn't heard from them at all. I needed to blame him.

And some of the blame (much of it) was rightly oriented. Logical. Appropriate, if blame can be these things. I didn't later realize I was mistaken, that it was misdirected. It was all true. They were wrong and I was hurt.

And so, some things I needed to recover from. And I did, in a few year long journey that isn't actually over, but has ceased my need to blame, or to get back at. And now that part of my life is over.

And I graduated. And I invited him. And this, unlike the last graduation I had, didn't involve the police, or handcuffs, or embarrassment, or unhappy tears. But a tall freckled man, with large grey-brown eyes, and a silvering afro waving from the right of the stage as he watched his only surviving child receive her diploma.

Later, I'd find he wandered the campus for hours, both to ensure he wasn't duped, that he wouldn't find out about his unwelcomeness, to ensure he was on time. Later, I'd read a card I'd refer to as the best gift I've ever been given besides my daughter herself. A card that read:

"Every time you glance at this card//I want it to remind you that your presence in this world//is a wonderful thing//I want you to come home to this card in all the seasons ahead//I want you to feel a flow in your heart//just from knowing that you never//ever have to wonder if you're in someones thoughts//or if there's anyone out there who//truly and lovingly appreciates you..."

And I can't alter this harrowed and harrowing past.
And I can't go from calling him by his name to calling him dad.
And I can't change that we once walked the street, and ignored each others footsteps.

But I've graduated from a place of where he is a monster and my heart was full of holes.
And I can't imagine a happiness larger than what I have now.

And I don't even want to.