I Was Santa Claus

Sometimes I hate being right. Sometimes I don’t care. Sometimes I just think it’s ironic that I knew….

A year ago today:

There’s a lot about Flutter’s life that I will never intimately understand. But this issue of fathers … I feel her heart like I’ve never understood another’s relationship with their dad before. She’s done such a remarkable job of putting these words on screen for me to read, and I feel like in some way I need to try to say my own words, because every time she says something I go, “yes yes, I know, I know”. And I think she deserves to hear me have an original thought on the subject.

Now I have to laugh, because I just said “original” and the story I’m putting here she already knows, because I’ve put it in her comments. *snort*

But this most recent post of hers on the subject compels me to share.

The story of my dad is long and twisted and studded with misunderstandings, giving ups, trying agains.

In the end, I don’t respect him because I believe, that as the father, he should be an adult. He should get over his hurt feelings and acting like a child and sack up and be the adult.

Paradoxically, I can handle our relationship better now that I am becoming the parent. Now that I am the one to utter the soothing words, to use the calm mother’s voice, to comfort his fears when he can no longer take them.

My father’s variety of health issues, currently fluid on a lung, which may keep him in the hospital until after Christmas, has made him an old man. He is now a grandfather, and he is every bit as old and frail as I remember my grandfathers being. I now watch his steps and check his balance as he walks. I keep a steadying hand nearby this man who once carried me in his strong daddy arms.

I feel a wave of sick roll through my stomach each time his name appears in my email – either as the sender, or more commonly, the subject.

He’s much too young to be this damn old.

I am careful with him. I take care to not hurt him. I am gentle with him in ways that I am gentle with no one else in this world. I don’t feel love for him, but it must be love that compels me to handle him with care, rather than disregard.

My family does not understand. I know they think I do not do enough. I know they think he is sick and because of this, I should do more to have a relationship with him. I rarely seek him out, but when I hear from him, I respond. I always respond. I try to give him his grandson. I give him pieces of Alex’s life, and I expect nothing in return. Giving without expectation? Isn’t that supposed to be unconditional love? I always thought unconditional love was supposed to be warm and fuzzy, not this practical emotion from behind the flimsy glass wall of my heart.

He sent Alex clothes, clothes that Alex has worn and I have enjoyed, but clothes that Alex is quickly growing out of, earlier than the label predicted he would.

This is my dad’s year to have us for Christmas, and five years from now, when it is his turn to have us again, I will be surprised if he is still alive to watch Alex unwrap presents in his fifth year. My dad will see Alex’s first Christmas, but it will likely be the only and the last as well.

I bought clothes for Alex today. Replicas of the outfits my dad sent, but a size larger. I will dress Alex in these clothes for my dad to see.

And in this gesture, the circle will be complete. Daughter will have become parent. I will gently play Santa Claus for my dad, I will give him a gift without strings for Christmas, I will become a gentle myth, a game, I will be the spirit of the jolly man in the beard, to the man who is my father.