Speak Clearly, Son

I love my father immensely. He is a spiritual role model. But sometimes, he’s not perfect. If I speak in broken grammar, he’ll get impatient with me, not mentioning the grammar until later but acting as though I am spitting out nonsense and impatiently waiting for me to say something that makes sense. And when he is impatient with me, I get pissed because I always try to be smart in front of Dad.

He, impatient, I, frustrated. It hurts when I think my father is disappointed because he thinks I’m in my 40’s and continue to be ignorant of my native language. He doesn’t mean it, and often he digs deep, finds loving patience, and asks questions to get me to elucidate my ideas. I’m left wondering at cause: he being an attorney or I being a layperson artist; he being wise, I, being an idiot.

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  1. #1 by carldagostino on April 23, 2011 - 9:26 am

    My father never got past the 4th grade. He busted A doing manual labor his whole life. He sent me to college. That is how he spoke. He also spoke when he always found time to lie on the floor with me and do the coloring book thing. And later to go to the hobby shop. He is 87. He and mother, also 87, live with me. I must have spent 4 hours at the mall with him yesterday trying to get him some kind of shoes, any kind of shoes, that would be more comfortable for him. That is how I spoke back. It would have made me ranting nuts, that ordeal. I remembered the coloring book. I did not mind “wasting” the morning at all.

    • #2 by Carl on April 23, 2011 - 10:56 am

      You draw such a wonderful portrait of a loving relationship between father and son. How lucky are you to be able to experience all of that love?

  2. #3 by sixthsymph on April 23, 2011 - 11:35 am

    I envy you, Carl! I only started talking to my dad after I turned 14 and learnt to be polite. One day I finally replied to one of his remarks while we were driving together; he said ‘you speak so beautifully…’ That one phrase made me feel more guilty than the 14 years of silence: I’d thought I had a reason to be unkind but that one phrase taught me never to look for excuses to be cruel. There’s still this enormous gap, this long silence hanging between us but we try to talk to each other through it. Sometimes it works.

  3. #4 by carldagostino on April 23, 2011 - 3:51 pm

    6th – Does he read your poetry? It certainly speaks.

    • #5 by sixthsymph on April 24, 2011 - 2:49 am

      Carl, thank you! He doesn’t, actually: I think he’s worried it might tell him more than he’s ready to hear.

  4. #6 by Val Erde on April 24, 2011 - 8:09 am

    I understand this, my own father used to make me feel inferior quite a lot of the time, and when one’s living close to someone, it’s rarely possible to step back and see them as they are without ourselves as their children. It took me years after my dad died, to realise that I don’t have to live up to his expectations any more and that really, I shouldn’t have had to then. The thing is – peace and quiet dictated that behaviour in me when he was alive, and I suspect it probably does in you too.

    • #7 by Carl on April 24, 2011 - 9:08 am

      Yes, you understand. Thank you for your comment.

      There was one time, not long ago, that my father told me that he loved me the way I was and in a way of speaking, he told me that there were no expectations for me to live up to. That was an important moment for me.

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