20 June 2010

Talking To My Father

Today I made it a point of calling my father when my mother was out.   Even though my relationship with my father has improved greatly, I still talk much more, much longer and in more intimate detail with my mother than I do with my father.  Most likely, it will always be that way.  But, because today is Father's Day, I wanted to get into a conversation with my father that wasn't just an afterthought of calling my mother.

He was apologetic about the fact that my mother wasn't there.  Of course, it made no sense:  After all, he didn't tell her to go shopping.  But, given our history, I can understand why he'd still think I was calling to talk to my mother and that I was talking to him only because he happened to answer the phone.

Sometimes I wish I could've had a different relationship from the one I had with him when I was growing up.  Then again, I could say that about nearly all of the relationships I had.  In fact, I could say that I wish many other things had been different.  But, of course, that would have meant my being--or, at least, living as--a different person from the one I had been.  I think he understands that now.  I know my mother does.  Sometimes she berates herself for not knowing--about me, about her own life and life generally--what she knows now.  And he has wished that he could have been a different sort of father from the one he had been to me and my brothers.

Still, even though I  would have liked for him to understand me better than he did--and that I could have spared myself and others, especially my mother, all sorts of pain--I don't regret any of it.  Perhaps that seems contradictory. But I know that had I not lived the life I lived until my transition, I couldn't have understood, much less helped him or her or anyone else to understand, why I need to live the life I'm living now--which, of course, is to say, to understand that I am the person I am.  

That may have been more difficult for my father to learn because, first of all, we didn't have the kind of relationship that my mother and I have shared.  But, equally important, I, and then he, had to learn that I simply could not be the sort of man he might have hoped I would become because, well, I simply couldn't have become any sort of man at all.  And I think he now understands that I really tried--and, it seems, he respects that, and the fact that I've been doing what I need to do in order to be successful in any sense of the word.

The man has tried.  That's really all I can ask of anybody.  And, I'd say, he's learned and showed me a facet of himself I didn't think he had--or, perhaps, that I couldn't allow myself to see:  that he is a man who's capable of compassion, if not empathy.  Right now, that seems to be working pretty well. 

Perhaps I'll never be able to say, as Cordelia says to Lear, "My love's richer than my tongue."  But if we have more respect and understanding for each other than we did before, then I think he's definitely achieved something.