Thursday, June 15, 2006

Anger Resurrected: Memoir Part 2

The universe dials back to normal. I go about my life. My life. All mine. My husband. My children. My house. My things. My opinions, my books, my favorite T.V. shows. The sum of my adult years.

Our house seems bigger without my father in it. It’s quieter, too. My husband says it’s much less entertaining. He actually likes my adoptive dad. Not many people do. Somehow, my husband can see beyond the quirks and into the damaged person inside. My husband also greatly respects my father, this man born in East Los Angeles to a poor seamstress and her alcoholic, abusive husband who beat them both until she finally divorced him.

Whenever I complain about my father’s shortcomings, my husband points out that my father somehow managed to rise above terrible circumstances and went on to live a productive life. He worked as a printer, helped his mother buy a home, then saved and bought his own home, married and adopted a child.

But he's never let me finish a single sentence, I say.
It’s always all about him.
He’s the most self-centered person on the planet
All of this is true. Still, despite the occasional racist remark and constant chatter, he’s a good guy. But when I am with him, I am diminished. Not a person, but a role. He needed someone to take care of him. To listen to him. To help him. He's not a parent, but a person with voracious emotional needs.

The trouble, I have always suspected, is that he does not feel like my father. He is a man I lived with, listened to, then couldn’t wait to escape from.

But the more days that pass, the more it’s clear something has changed. My father’s words still haunted me. A ghost from the long and distant past had finally paid a visit.
I had forgot. Totally and completely. My father’s distorted story of our little family was not new. It wasn’t the result of an aging brain succumbing to dementia. When faced with the occasional, "she doesn’t look like either of you" comment, my parents would launch into nervous explanations. She looks like her grandmother. She looks like my wife when she was a little girl. It didn’t matter that I was standing right there. So traumatic were these incidents that I had forgotten they had ever taken place. But now, as an adult, exposed to the same public denial of my status as an adopted person, it felt like the earth itself had opened up. Like a grave holding long dead secrets. Except they weren’t dead. They had come alive. Resurrected by the power of words.


Blogger Daughter of 2 women said...

My parents would do that too. They always insisted that I looked like my mom. They do it with my children too. Did you know that my oldest son got his hair from his grandmother?! Please, drives me crazy because it is so dishonest. What does it matter? I would love some insight on why they do that. Your husband sounds like a wonderful person who can see the good in others even when the good is hidden.

7:33 AM  

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