oh father, where art thou?

my other best friend, suzi of the mathematical genius, is getting married tomorrow to a very breathtakingly wonderful man. i'm ecstatic for her, and i'm so proud of her. i'm so proud to be her friend, so blessed to be an inseparable part of her life.

we've been together for more than half our lives. even should we go months without talking --life getting in the way as it does-- it always feels like we talked only yesterday. we're always as close as ever. i love her so much.

if i could go back in time and model my life after anyone's, i'd model it after hers.

her father died last month.

when i was twenty-two, the memories i'd suppressed of the Baseball Bat Incident came rushing back one day when i was standing in the kitchen, li'l *c* playing in the living room. i don't even remember what triggered it, but i remembered almost everything, all in a rush, after fourteen years of a six-month gap in my memory. i'd wiped out six months just to remove sixty seconds. i blogged about it.

i'd never really "come out" about the abuse we endured as kids, not until i'd recovered enough to actually write about it. but she read that entry, and i remember we grew even closer as friends because that's when she told me about the hardships in her own father-daughter relationship. that she was still as amazing as she was, with what she had to go through, only served to make her Incredible, almost otherworldly, in my eyes.

she responded to the pain by excelling at everything she did scholastically, and musically, and she never lost her beautiful soul. i'll never be a fraction of the incredible human being that she is, and i know it. it's okay, though, because suzi is phenominal and amazing and so, so beautiful.

but she said something to me, and it was only something that had been tumbling in my mind ever since i got the news of her father. she always thought she had time to clear up the stupid shit between her and her father, always thought there'd be a chance to iron out some --if not all-- of what had caused so much pain for so long. and now she has no time. his body is ashes scattered across the saudi arabian desert, the very dust to which he returned.

what breaks my heart is simply how much i still deeply love my bio-dad. he's sixty-one this year. i remember the roast i gave him for his 50th birthday party, how everyone laughed at my clever little poem i had written. i'd spent the better part of two years writing it, saving lines and perfecting rhymes, and that's the Funk's honest truth. i remember Sinatra, how i fell in love with his voice one year on a trip to the beach with our church group. by the time we'd made the two hour trip, i'd memorized the entire album and was craving more.

sinatra became the one thing that could unite us, when the father-daughter wars started. we could both grab microphones --as i inherited my voice from him-- look into each other's eyes and smile, and we'd both sing one of sinatra's songs and it was as if our war never existed and i was just his mijita again. i remember i sobbed for days when i learned sinatra died. it was as if a part of what could bring me close to my bio-father had literally died.

i remember the tone of his voice, the expression on his face, when he would smile at me and say, "que chula, mijita!" i loved that... i remember his boasting to his friends when he'd introduce me. "and this is my oldest daughter: the singer, the pianist, the artist, the scholar, the linguist..." i loved his pride in me. i remember practicing in the mirror until i walked and moved exactly like him, and i remember how i swelled with secret pride when i overheard my bio-mother mention to one of my aunts how identical to my bio-father i walked.

"you look just like your father!" was a compliment i completely ate up. i loved my sanchez nose, my sanchez bowling ball head, my barrel-shaped frame and broad, completely unfeminine shoulders. i reveled in my almond eyes and coconut skin, my straight indian hair and flat, mayan cheekbones. i loved my big, broad, fat uncles and my round, short, swarthy aunts and abuelitas. i loved beans and rice and mountains of tortillas piled high with spicy barbacoa, mariachis and jokes told in laughing spanglish. i loved how loud and bossy and affectionate we all were.

i loved being a sanchez, because it was my father's world. i reveled in it.

people ask me why i changed my name. not just my last name, but all three of my names: first, middle, and last. and i tell them with the most deadpan expression that i am not my bio-father's daughter any longer, so i don't want the name he gave me.

what breaks my heart is that it's true.

i'm not jumping the gun here, but just stating facts. people have already asked me if i'll be moving to idaho to be with *m*. some have even brought up the M-word, which i nip in the bud right quick. but everyone knows i'm adopted by now, and they ask me who would be the one to walk me down the aisle: my bio-father, or my dad?

that's a fucking good question. not that i'm thinking about...the M-word...but the question of who is my father? which man is to have the father's honors in my life?

i love them both. one helped give me life and raised me as a girl, and the other gave me soul and raised me to be a woman. one enjoys casual, ten-minute conversations over the telephone on occasion, and the other wants me over for dinner every other sunday and knows possibly the most important and intimate details of my life.

and poor suzi...she'll never be able to reconcile those important things with her father now. those things which, as their children, we vitally need from our parents whether we want to admit it or not. i was a fucked up pile of nightmare until that one day when my mom and dad actually gave me the parenting i'd so desperately needed and craved all my life. they literally saved my life that day. and in only a few hours, by giving me that unconditional parental love and guidance, they healed and made new something in me that needed healing before i could actually move on to grow into Delena of the Funkywild.

i've forgiven my bio-dad for what he did to me, to us. i understand him a lot better, and i don't feel any rage or animosity or resentment toward him. i find i feel only love and compassion, and sorrow, for him. but i know him, and so i hesitate to reach out. i've gone this long building our sort-of relationship because i avoid those tender areas. it all turns into arguments with him, and then we're right back to me being eight, twelve, seventeen years old again and him feeding on his own angry assumptions of how filthy and devious i am.

but time's not standing still, and while he's still very robust...he's got diabetes now, and there's still his epilepsy. i feel his mortality weighing on me, and at those times i'm a scared little girl again and i don't want him to leave this world without putting his arms around me one more time. i want all the bad years to go away. i want to take the heavenly state of our sinatra-truce and bring it off stage into the real world. i want to get to know my bio-father as a person, and introduce him to his oldest daughter.

but am i ready? is he ready? does it matter? time is ticking.


Anonymous said...

dear D....sending you vibes of peace, love and clarity~~~~~~~
There is so much truth and raw courage in this post.
They say childhood is the "best time of your life" and yet we spend the REST OF OUR LIVES trying to recover from it!
I think it's important to see bio-dad as a separate entity, without comparing him to the wonderful man who was "the DAD he didn't have to be". (Kudos to this precious man another time.)
One of the most difficult lessons we are told to learn is that "our parents did the best they could" with what resources, knowledge, and baggage they carried with them into OUR births and upbringings.
I think it's wonderfully healthy that you have fond memories of bio-dad. (to balance out your "dead zone"...aka...blocking out the bad shit). Our minds must have fabulous defense mechanisms that allow traumatic incidents to be suppressed until we can process them.
My own dad died when I was 29 and I am so blessed to have had a healthy and nurturing relationship with him.
That said, no matter what, NOBODY ever says everything they wanted to say to someone who has died.
I had tons of hospital time alone with my dad and a long forewarning of his imminent(sp?) passing, and I STILL think of things that I wish I had talked with him about.
Even if you have unresolved issues and bio-dad dies, I don't believe it's final. Healing begins within. You can forgive him, make your peace, etc. and he doesn't even have to be there.
That said, I also understand your need for "connectedness" before he leaves this world.
But know that you will be just fine if you end up with only the memories you've posted here. They were a beautiful read.
I love you.
And I WILL walk you down the aisle!!!

Az said...

I'm not sure if this is helpful to you in anyway, but I'm going to relate my own experience and you can do with it what you like.

I don't know how many times I find myself wishing I could go back and have a "do-over" with my mother. She always found fault with everything I did, constantly criticizing and belittling me while praising my older brother. Things really got bad when I let her move into our house. She lived with us for 10 years, and for all those years my husband and I felt like we were guests in HER home. I let her do the cooking and cleaning because whenever I did something it was never correct in her eyes. Eventually, I gave up trying to please her. Only after she got the colon cancer did she let me in, allowing me to take care of her and thanking me every night for being such a wonderful daughter. And every night I would cry, wishing those words would've come a lot sooner. If I knew then what I know now, I would've tried to get closer to mom while she was alive instead of rolling my eyes all the time, closing myself off to her, and letting resentment build for so many years. It might not have worked but I think I would feel better knowing I gave it my best shot.

Greggo said...

the beauty of you, dee, is that regardless of whether you completely patch things up with bio-dad, you have so much love and compassion that you're able to WANT to patch things up, even after all he's done. that says more about the woman you are than just about anything. your ability to forgive - if not forget - is a powerful quality (and god knows you've had to use it on me on occasion!).

i never thought i'd say this, but i hope you do make your peace with him, for your own sake. i don't know if you remember the post i wrote about visiting my grandmother's grave. the only thing that made me feel, was the realization that i didn't feel anything. and i fear it's going to be the same with my parents...

Rob said...

Suzi will be able to reconcile those things with her father. I did with my mother, and I certain I'll have to with my father, since our relationship in life isn't at all Leave it to Beaver or somesuch. It's just a matter of time, and it's not a loud explosive revelation, but rather a quiet "oh look what happened 20 minutes ago while I wasn't looking" type of thing.