Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day 2010


A day for taking stock.


I used to idealize my father. Worship him. How could I fail to? He was the ultra cool, ultra hip, bad motherfucker. He carried guns. He took down bad guys. Got in shoot outs. Left my dumpy mom for a hot, leggy brunette as tall as he was. Rode motorcycles, swung an axe, drove a sports car.

So what if I could only see him a month every summer?


On the flip side, I used to hate my step-father. He worked at a shoe factory. He had two daughters around the same ages as my brother and I. He wore short-sleeved dress shirts and had a pot-belly.

He wasn't going to tell me shit.


And my own failure as a father.

I thought I would be good at it. I thought I was good at it. I loved a lot about it, and endured what I did not love. I read her to sleep every night I could. I made Peter Rabbit birthday cakes, watermelon ice-cream cakes, bought fairy wings and tu-tus and changed diapers and cleaned up vomit and all that happy horse-shit.

Last father's day I got a letter from her, along with a jailhouse drawing of her mother and I as skeletons in a wedding.

She said she loved me, wished me a happy father's day.

I will probably get another one this year.


I love her, I really do.

But I failed her in all the ways that matter.


We are none of us perfect. And I don't hold a grudge against anyone. I love my dad, faults and all. My step-dad, too. The older I get, the better I can see them, and the more I like them both. Maybe my kid really loves me, underneath it all. Maybe she forgives me, maybe she doesn't hold a grudge. Maybe she doesn't blame me at all.

Right now she is a stranger to me, but that could change.


I bought myself a bottle of vodka for my father's day present. It comes in a glass skull.

How cool is that?

I also took a four hour knife-fighting class, and ordered a custom-made dress shirt from some outfit in China.


So I spend my Father's day weekend fighting and drinking and looking damn good doing it.


I am not melancholy about any of this. I love my life with a fierceness that takes my breath away. I have earned my failures, my scars, my triumphs and tragedies. It is all of a piece. I am blessed beyond all measure.


So, here's to the men in my life. The busted-up heros. The ones who fight the good fight, and hold back nothing of themselves. You taught me how to love as hard as I hit, and vice-versa.





Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, have failed someone in all the ways that matter.
And yet, how can I apologize for being, what I thought, was my best self?
I now love from a distance and accept that it's the best it can be.


2:26 PM  
Blogger T. said...

"I have earned my failures." That takes MY breath away.

To love is to meet face-on all the imperfections a human is capable of.

Thank you for this.

9:15 PM  
Blogger LKD said...

You said you failed your daughter in every way that counts.

No you didn't.

You love her. And she knows that.

She loves you. And you know that.

Do you know how powerful that is?

That love, brother, outshines all of your failures and hers.

6:12 PM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...


I guess we carry our burdens with us. You are right, though, not to assume a burden that you don't own. I am still trying to sort out who gets what, I guess.

I think you are a marvelous human being, and count myself lucky to know you.

Thank you.

7:06 PM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...


I am glad we are shipmates. This is an imperfect place, and it is good to have someone like you along to keep me in check.



7:08 PM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...


I hope that she does know, and I do know, on my better days, that she does.

It is all that matters, and yet, and yet...

All best to you, always,


7:38 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth said...

History has a horrible way of repeating itself. You know the Philip Larkin poem, I expect, it pleads a certain forgiveness of ourselves as parents of chilren, and ourselves as the children of our parents, and they as children of their parents and so on it goes.

Philip Larkin - This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can, And don't have any kids yourself.

Thanks for this heart wrenching post, Dishwasher.

11:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I used to idealize my father."

Well, I suppose that's better than being the fat kid and always thinking he liked his eldest namesake better than you - topper.

I suppose if you can't have kids of your own - you find other ways to possess them.

- saying "she loves you"

isn't the same as saying "I love you"

Is it?

You have a wonderful life.


9:59 PM  
Blogger Marylinn Kelly said...

Radish King led me here; your movies - Herzog, Kinski, - made me want to know more. My sense has been, for years, that life is a two-fisted business, however we interpret that. Once I realized that, given the chance to edit my life so that the outcome was impossibly swell, I would certainly manage to delete the moments which produced what I now treasure most in myself. Your writing has shown me another outpost where the courageous gather.

11:28 AM  
Blogger deirdre said...

Happy father's day to you tearful - I love this post. You are so alive in the most essential visceral ways, there should be a goddamn fence around you - (I mean that in the best possible way.)


12:18 PM  
Blogger Maggie May said...

here's to you, busted up hero. xo

9:44 PM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...


I love Larkin, and this poem of his is a gem. Thank you for sharing it with me, and thank you for kind words.

I'm glad to have you come by.

5:51 AM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...


Thank you. I do have a wonderful life. I hope you do, too.

I wish all the best for you.

5:53 AM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...


Welcome! Glad you found me, glad you like what you've found, too.

Life is a two fisted business, indeed. You make a really excellent point about how wrong we can be to wish away the bad parts- of our lives, or of ourselves. You've got to have it all or it's just no damn good.

I hope you'll come back often.

5:57 AM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...


Thank you. I don't think you're the first one to say that there should be a fence around me...



6:00 AM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...


Thanks! You're a busted up hero, too, girl. You have the heart of a warrior, and you refuse to hold back any part of yourself from the storm.

I salute you.

6:02 AM  

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