Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

Fortunately, the ruby slippers are optional. Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there who have it all.

I know there are at least a few dads out there who read my blog, maybe even two gay dads out there raising sons and/or daughters, and I want to wish you a very Happy Father's Day.  Just like mothers, fathers can drive us crazy.  Most of us may not have been as close to our fathers as maybe we should have been or should be, but all of us have a father somewhere.  Besides wishing you fathers out there a Happy Father’s Day, I also wanted to tell you about my father.

We are very different in so many ways.  He is very outdoorsy: he hunts, he fishes, and constantly works outdoors.  I was always a book worm, who liked books better than sports.  I’ve learned to like the outdoors:  I walk nature trails, I like to hike, and I even like to fish occasionally.  Whereas my father worked outside all his life, I prefer to work inside, research, writing, teaching, etc.  There are a lot of other differences as well.  We can generally have a conversation for about 15-20 minutes before we get into some type of argument.  My father has never felt I was right about anything.  I can be agreeing with him, and he will fuss at me for agreeing with him.  No matter what I say, he will say the opposite.  The other day, I made a remark about a house being painted white (it used to be gray), he argued with me that the house was painted gray, just a lighter shade.  Everyone else I know says the house is white, but he still says that it is gray.  It’s that sort of thing that drives me crazy.  Needless to day, we barely get along.  I love him nonetheless, I just don’t like him sometimes.  He can be very cruel and frustrating.

To switch gears a little bit, I want to tell you also how great my father can be, without me ever knowing it.  This is part of the reason that I forgive so much of the misery he causes me.  When my parents found out I was gay, it was a very traumatic experience for all concerned.  My mother had suspected for quite a while and was being very nosy.  She checked my email.  She didn’t like some of the emails that she saw.  Most of them, if not all, were fairly innocent, but there were some like an ad from Showtime about “Queer as Folk” and maybe another one from gay.com. I was over at my grandmother’s checking on her, when my mother called me and confronted me about it.  I was tired of denying it.  All of my friends knew, so why shouldn’t she.  I knew she wouldn’t like it.  She had confronted me several years before about it, and I denied it then.  I wasn’t ready, and to make sure that I never was, my mother told me, “If I would rather have a dick up my ass, then be part of this family, then I should go ahead and leave.  They would have nothing more to do with me.”  When this time came around, we got into a huge argument.  I yelled, she yelled, and I left.  I was still dependent on them for some things, but I could live without them.  My mother went to bed and cried for the next two weeks.  BTW, this all happened two days before Christmas, while I was home on Christmas break.  When my father got home, he talked to my mother about what was wrong.  She told him.  She tells him everything. This was one of the times when he sided with me.

He told my mother, that I was there child.  She could not stop loving me, just because she did not agree with my lifestyle. He would continue to love me, and she would have to do the same.  No matter what his children did, they would still love them (it may have helped that my sister married a complete and total jackass, who doesn’t physically abuse her, but abuses her mentally).  Then he  came and talked with me.  He told me that he didn’t care what I told my mother, but to tell her something or she would die in that bed in there (you don’t know my mother, but she would have).  Then he told me what surprised me the most, “I should have taught you how to fight the urges.  I am sorry that I failed you.”  It is the only time my father ever apologized to me for anything.  I never asked about the urges, but I am pretty sure I know what he was talking about.  He knew exactly how I felt.  He had been there himself, but he had chosen a different path.  Maybe that is why they still believe it is a choice.  But I see the misery in him almost everyday.  I went to my parents and told them both that I was celibate and would remain that way, and I had never acted on my sexuality (yes it was a lie, but it was one I think was and still is for the better).  They made me promise that I would not tell anyone else in the family, and I have agreed to that. Our family has become a “Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t discuss” Zone.  It is not my preference but it is what I must deal with for the time being.  If I ever find a man to live my life with, I will deal with the other consequences then.  I don’t think I could hide from my family the love of my life (if he ever comes along).

They still consider my being gay a lifestyle choice, I never will.  I would have never chosen this myself.  I would have chosen to live a more open life, but that is mostly not possible where I live now, and especially not with my job.  But I know what makes me happy, and after a lot of prayer and meditation, God told me that love is what matters most in this world.  I came to understand that if I lived a lie and married a woman, I would make her and my life miserable (somewhat like my father has).  If I was going to be alone, then I would be alone. At least I wouldn’t be hurting someone else.  I realize that some people had more pressures to get married and have a family and come out later in life.  I do not fault them for that, it was a different time and different circumstances.  But in this day and age, I felt I could not lie to myself or anyone else and spend a large portion of my life as a lie.

Dolly lends her vocals for a live version of Holly Dunn's timeless classic song, "Daddy's Hands."  This song reminds me a lot of my Daddy for many reasons and has been one of my favorite songs for a long time.  Holly Dunn is also one of my all-time favorite country singers, too bad she had retired from country music.  She’s now an artists in the Southwest.


Reba McEntire singing “The Greatest Man.”  This is a truly great song and also describes my relationship between me and my Daddy, although I don’t know if he thinks I “hung the moon.”  My mother always says he brags about me to everyone, but I also remember him telling me once when I made a 99 (out of 100) on my report card, “Can’t you do better than that.”  He was kidding with me, but it didn’t feel like it at the time, especially since some of my grades on that report card were above 100.  Also, my Daddy is still alive, but he is one of the greatest men I have ever known.  I hope this post proves that.



Some of you may have read much of this post before.  I not only used it for my Father's Day post last year. I plan to use it each Father's Day for as long as this blog is published.

6 comments:

silvereagle said...

You have given your father the greatest tribute he will ever receive. Well thought out , eloquently written, and from the heart.

Thanks from another father....

Jay M. said...

An excellent tribute to a father, that while flawed (are any of us perfect, even when we're supposed to be?), obviously raised a fine man for a son, and while he may not be happy with your "choice", I'm sure he's damn proud of your accomplishments in life.

Happy Father's Day, Joe!

Peace <3
Jay

Mike said...

Love those 2 country songs!

fan of casey said...

Joe: One day you should have a heart to heart talk to share your appreciation for your father's support. For the older generation, they have a hard time getting with the new, more progressive society -- it takes a lot to embrace this so his acceptance, however tentative is still an attempt to support you.

Steve said...

Thanks for sharing this part of your life with us, your readers. Father-son relationships can be very difficult, in part because fathers tend to have a great deal invested in their expectations for their sons -- who typically don't plan their own lives based on their fathers' expectations. You have painted a vivid picture of the tension and differences between you and you Dad, yet it's clear that you're not without affection for him, and he for you.

I'm curious to know what your Dad's techniques were for "fighting the urges." You don't want to fight them, so you don't need to ask him for your own sake, but you could tell him that you wanted to know for a friend. I'm thinking that the two of you could have a discussion with that as a springboard that would not have to blow up into an argument; you could just listen without lecturing him.

djc314 said...

I remember reading this last year...but just as touching this year and the rest of the years...