Saturday, November 20, 2010

All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues

I've always loved that line.

Well, not so much a line, it was actually a title. It was the title of an episode of LOST, which, although technically called Episode #11, it is only called that since they always split the two-part first episode, 'Pilot', into two parts on DVD and Blu-Ray. In truth, it was the tenth episode to actually 'air'.

In it, we learn more about the character of Jack.

In the beginning Flashback section, in an earlier episode ('White Rabbit'), the reluctant leader of the Lostaways was told as a child, by his father, Christian, that he simply 'Doesn't have what it takes.'

Harsh words to hear from your old man. Those are the kind of words that stick with you. They certainly stick with Jack, through his whole life, and he struggles with that doubt throughout the entire show.

In 'All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues', Jack must, in fact, prove that statement of his father's wrong in the most awful of ways, by following his moral compass and being true to the good man he is and making a choice which, ultimately, results in the worst possible consequences for his father. Consequences that will in fact haunt Jack almost as much as the doubt his father instilled in him from the very beginning.

I have a couple of Daddy issues too, in case you had not heard.

That's why I gravitate to Daddy issue stuff.

The other night, I was watching Battlestar Galactica, a show that Jennifer and I have been re-watching from start to finish, and it struck me that one of the things that I love the most about the show is not the space shit and the Cylons and the action and all that crap.

It's the complex relationship between Commander Adama and his son, Lee.

And what a relationship it is. In fact, I also recall that I was majorly pissed off at the Series Finale, and how William did not stay with Lee. I can understand that maybe Commander Adama was sort of foggy over his grief at losing so much, but I didn't quite get that relationship and its closure.

Of course, there is also Chief Tyrol and his relationship with his own son, whom he finds out is not his own very soon after losing his wife and the whole fleet is falling apart because of finding Earth and discovering it is a bombed-apart mess.

Of all the characters on the show, the Chief is the one I identify the most with.

I don't know why.

But I loved his statement about fatherhood in the episode 'A Disquiet Follows My Soul'. When asked by Hot Dog, after confronted by the Chief that he knows that Hot Dog is the actual father of the Chief's kid, Hot Dog asks the Chief what fatherhood is like.

He says, as only the Chief can...'Fatherhood sucks. Except for the parts that don't.'

He then goes on to teach Hot Dog (that's Brendan Costanza's pilot 'Call Sign', not his actual name, BTW) his first 'Lesson in Fatherhood'. He says something along the lines of 'First rule of Fatherhood. You're kid is in the hospital. You never leave him alone. EVER. [pulling out chair] You get first shift.'

When Costanza asks how long he must sit at Nicky's bedside, Tyrol answers, 'Until I get back. That'll be after I sober up.'

Why the sudden shift in focus from all the medical stuff to talk about TV shows about Father's and Son's? It's that time of year again. Inching ever closer to the anniversary of the death of my Dad.

It's less than a week away, and so it, naturally, is on my mind.

But I do not want it to be the focus of my attention next week, so I decided to purge it now.

See, next week I have something ELSE in mind. Earlier, I said I had a goal for November, and I intend to keep it. My goal was to have a post count of at least 20. I had an idea. Something I just want to do...because I need it and I want it.

Next week, I am pulling out the stops on positive energy, and I am going to post about 50 Random Things I Am Thankful For, in groups of 5. It's not a 'Top 50', that way I don't have to stress over organizing it, I don't have to stress over what is MORE important than this or that, I can just focus on things that make me happy, things for which I am truly grateful.

With today's blog, that gets me to 10. Those posts take me to 20. One follow up and I exceed my goal. Wins across the board.

And the last thing in the world I want to do is bring all that positive energy to a screeching FRAKKIN' halt on Friday by talking about the death of my Dad, which would be the anniversary. So I will acknowledge it here.

If you want to read last year's post, Remembering Dad, feel free, but it's a longie and a bummer, and most people have anyway. There really isn't much to add that is new to that. Since that time we did unearth some new photos, which I showed here, and I treasure, but no one in the family has found any since.

I would be lying if I said his legacy does not still haunt me. As I sat in the examination room on Friday (yesterday), in yet another doctor visit trying to figure out why there was blood and protein in Carter's urine, I realized we were in the exam room that had the emergency exit door.

Carter, while reading a book, asked me why the door was there.

'So people who have to get out in an Emergency have a place they can escape to.'

The funny thing is, that in the exact instant I said it, I thought of my father. I guess I always will. Because I wondered what it might be like, to open a door like that in my life, walk through it, and make for the treeline, never looking back, never bothering to care about the devastation I would be leaving behind when I made that kind of decision.

I would be lying if, in our darker moments, I had not considered it. I'd be lying if, in even darker ones, I had not cried myself to sleep with guilt and self-hatred because of that selfishness. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that sometimes I wonder if I fight so hard to keep my family together because I don't want the kids to be fatherless and sometimes wonder if that is unfair to Jennifer, since that doesn't factor in HER needs...maybe I'm not all she was hoping for but I just can't actually SEE it because I am blinded by such a strong desire not to follow in my father's footsteps.

So many things to figure out. So many pieces of shrapnel that you find yourself picking our of your psyche, even decades later.

And get up each day, you fight through that shit, and you make your boys some eggs, you pour some juice, you smile and make fart noises and you figure out ways to make each day a little bit better than yesterday, if you can. You try to understand their mood swings, their idiosyncrasies, their individuality.

You love them, so unconditionally and so completely, you can't IMAGINE a life without them.

And you hope you never have to.

So that's that. Dad...I can say that I understand you more now, today, than I ever have before. But you had it SO easy, and you still bailed. I find that while I used to pine for you more, and have more of a 'dreamy' or 'wishful' way of thinking about you, these last few years have made me see you very differently, just as they have made me see myself differently.

Do I hate you? No. Do I still feel as much anger? No, not really. I just find myself caring less and less about you as 'the man who was my father'. And that's sad, Dad, that's all. It shouldn't have been that way. It should never be that way between a Dad and his boy.

And you know what? Maybe I should be grateful, in a way...I certainly do have one thing that some people do not have...I have 100% appreciation of what it is like to have your Father walk out on your life. It's a valuable life lesson to have.

Was it worth it?

That's arguable. But I'll go ahead and make the decision here, now, to take the positive aspects of it and leave it at that. Maybe enough time has passed since you died that some of these wounds really are starting to actually heal. For real.

Take care, Dad.

I love you.



  1. If it was really as easy as walking through the Emergency Exit door ... not sure I could handle the temptation. We all have weak moments, but something keeps most of us around.

    Good luck with the anniversary ... and the list'o'50.

  2. The peace that comes with what you have spoken and written,can only bring healing and with healing comes the ability to move forward.

    Having been estranged from my mother and father,for almost 2 years now,I have struggled to find peace.It is coming,little by little.But at a price.

    Sending prayers and the ever present good vibes to little Carter and the rest of your crew.

  3. Wow. That was intense and I have no words.

    I've said it before, but I'm digging your posts and while I'm light years away from relating to Battlestar Galactica or your video stuff, your words and thoughts touch me deeply.

  4. I think the list of 50 sounds like a lovely idea, and certainly should be a positive therapeutic task. And you sound like you are on the right track, bringing up the Daddy issues early, before they have a chance to sneak up on you and bog you down.

    Hoping you guys are all feeling healthy in time to enjoy Thanksgiving.

  5. The best part about getting older/screwing up/getting kicked in the head is that it has made it much easier for me to empathize rahter than judge. Sounds like the same for you.

    When I was younger I was furious with my dad for things he did and didn't do. Years later, I realize I'm ok. What happened, happened. I am who I am and where I am because of it. Sure, I'd prefer that things had been different, but whatever. I'm sure my dad wanted things to be different, too.

    I guess what I'm saying is I'm glad that enough time has passed that I can view him as mush as a person (with his own demons, disappointments, etc.) as a father. I no longer waste my time wishing things had been different. It would be pretty awesome if I get to see him when I die and he says, "I'm really sorry. You wanna grape soda and a grilled cheese sandwich?" I think that would set it all right.


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