Today I was thinking about motorcycle racing… as I frequently do. However, today I was thinking about what happens if I crash and break something…perhaps break something important like my spine? How would it affect me emotionally to not be able to walk, for instance? It’s not a good line of thinking, but the little annoying thoughts creep in sometimes. This is when I realized that I take a lot of things for granted – my health, my mom, my living situation, my dog, my breathtakingly good looks (heh) and so on. These are things that normally I don’t think too much about. Which is why I can say that I realize now and then that I take them for granted.
My dad was a jerk. He could be a real asshole. He was a slob. His refrigerator was a garden for botulism and e-coli. If he didn’t eat he would get cranky. Eating with him was a test of willpower to not get up and move out of spittle distance.
He was also tender and compassionate. He was an artist with pastels and watercolor and words. He loved beauty even if he had trouble creating it in his life. He had an innate intelligence and book-learned smarts. He was my existential question go-to guy.
I think in a lot of ways, because of our difficulties, arguments, hassles, I frequently took the good side of him for granted. I resisted visiting him because of his grubby ways. He was demanding of my grandmother, which I resented, and his mood swings were so large that spending any amount of time with him was exhausting.
But he was my pop. And I loved him immensely. We sang loudly off-key together, we played aggressive games of foos ball and Mortal Combat. He taught me how to add and subtract by shuffling through numerous hands of Blackjack. I learned from him wise words of wisdom such as, “never play cards with a man named ‘Doc’,” and “don’t bet on lucky horse number 7.” When I was a kid, he’d take me to Broadway shows. I got to see Michael Jackson perform in “The Wiz,” Diana Ross perform in “Dream Girls,” and Matthew Broderick in one of my favorite Neil Simon plays, “Brighton Beach Memoirs.”
I learned how to pour a proper whiskey on the rocks and how to bet on race horses. I also learned about meditation from my pop. We would have long, winding, philosophical conversations about the nature of “existential heebie-jeebies,” and came up with an idea of “damage assessment” of how much damage a person incurs by living in a city (as opposed to living in the more serene and relaxing country)
My dad had a great sense of humor and when we were together, if we weren’t fighting, we were usually laughing.
I dislike Father’s Day. I remember my pop frequently, but this commercial day with weeks of advertising leading up to it only makes me sad. I am reminded of the ways in which I lacked as a daughter. “I should have visited more often,” “I could have been more patient.” I know it’s pointless to beat myself up over these things, but I still do. The lesson I try to take from it is to make sure to not take the people who are presently in my life for granted, including myself.
So, friends and family and critters… thank you.
From me to you, this is your day too.