Thursday, April 3, 2008

My Daddy

Some people I know think that people become lesbian or gay because they have a dysfunctional or broken family. I guess I break that stereotype. My parents have been married for thirty-six years, and are more in love with each other than ever. Neither of them is violent or addicted to drugs, and never, ever abused me, my sister, or each other.
That's just to set the record straight. If you want to read some tale of abuse and neglect, find some other blog.
I am going to try my hardest to have one summary blog about my dad, and one summary blog about my mom, but they are so much alike, and so often together, that there will be a lot of overlap... I just didn't want to set out to write the world's longest post by attempting to write about both of them. 
I really was my Daddy's little girl. I remember "helping" him in the garage with whatever he was working with, be it a car, a woodworking project, or some sort of home/appliance repair. Looking back, there are plenty of funny stories, although at the time I'm sure they were terrifying for my dad. Once, after showing me how to put a tire back on a car, he had me tighten down the bolts... but didn't come after to make sure they were down all the way. I think I was four or five. I'm really glad my dad was driving in the right-hand lane when he noticed something odd with his tire, since after he pulled over it fell off... My dad has always had ultimate confidence in me, although I think he did realize that a small child does not have the upper-body strength of an adult after that incident. He encouraged me in school, with full confidence that I could do anything, learn anything, that I set my heart on. When it turned out that I had asthma like my dad, he showed me how to take my medicine, and I felt so excited that our inhalers looked exactly the same.
My family has a love of the mountains, and every summer we would head out on an expedition to Colorado, where we would hike, climb, jeep, and occasionally boat over or on anything we could find. My Daddy and I would always acclimate to the altitude a lot faster than my mom and sister - possibly because we're used to less oxygen than the average person, and it would always feel so good to me that me and my Daddy would be running right up the mountains, while my mother and sister would be lagging behind... an occurrence that only happened two weeks out of the year. 
As a teenager, my dad became my protector. This was occasionally embarrassing, like when he showed up at a prayer walk my Christian club at school was doing - to make sure we didn't get in trouble, or like the time he convinced my homecoming date that he had an AK-47 (he doesn't). I always knew that he would always be there, and that whatever the situation, he could make it right, could rescue me from my mistakes, or cheer me on, if that was what I needed. He had/has a tendency to want to fight my battles for me, but when I need someone in my corner, he's where I go.
When I was in college we set off sparks. I'm still not sure why. We couldn't be in the same room together without it exploding into an argument. I don't even remember what we argued about, but I remember dreading coming home for breaks, or even talking to him on the phone. After some counseling, hard discussions, and maturing (I know on my part) we got through it, and while my dad and I have had disagreements in the past few years, it hasn't been anywhere close to the yelling, crying, cursing fits of yesteryear. I hope and pray those never come back.
Now that I'm a neophyte adult, my Daddy and I seem more emotionally close than ever before. We talk about things as adults and friends, not as a small child filled with Daddy-worship, and the paterfamilias explaining how things are done. After I was diagnosed with depression, he opened up to me about his struggles with the same illness (I already knew which parent I got it from) and as I have worked on setting up things like retirement accounts, and tried to figure out how nice of a car I could afford, he has been there to share not only what worked for them, but what didn't work, too. When people ask me why I haven't gone on a date in over a year, I tell them I can't find a man as good as my dad... and while I might be using that as a cover, it's also the truth.
So why haven't I told this loving, supportive man that I'm a lesbian? It's fear. I'm afraid that he won't understand, will be completely bewildered, and that our relationship, which suffered so much during my college years, will never be the same. My dad is not a fundamentalist, but I don't think he's ever thought about gay and lesbian issues that much. I've only heard him talk about such things once, and that was about gay marriage. He's against it. He doesn't think it's fair that gays should get a tax break when they aren't even raising families. When I mentioned to him that a lot of gay and lesbian people have children and that a lot of straight couples don't have kids he kind of ignored it. I didn't press the issue - at the time I didn't know I was a lesbian. That was a few years ago, I don't know what his current views are. I'm glad that he didn't pull out the "sanctity of marriage card." I would have been very surprised if he had, because most of those uber-religio-political people make him mad.
I think my biggest fear is that my dad would think it was something wrong with me, and that it was somehow his fault.


The Swandive said...

Oh dear... there is just so much in here. I could write and write and write, but I think all I would end up saying in the end is to never forget or stop believing in the awesome power of love, and what it can do. And I hope you don't feel like you have to defend your choices, just walk with them, until it is time to make more choices. And know all of them are OK. Bless you.

FranIAm said...

Another beautiful post from you- thank you again for sharing your story.

Blessings in abundance to you!

Wormwood's Doxy said...

LB--look at it this way...maybe he will be grateful to know that he's never going to "lose" you to another man! ;-)