Carnivore Dreams – Vicarious Pain

I’d say I was 13 or 14 maybe. Or 15 even. In our living room at the farmhouse. Our two dogs, Rusty and Ginger, my brother, of course.

Boys would say to me, ‘Too bad you don’t look more like your mother.”

Obviously. Ha.

I looked like my father, except for my hands and feet, though the older I get the more I see her in my face and feel her living inside me. Ah, we’re dressed alike, mother and me–I didn’t notice that about this photo. I was old for that. Mom had us dress alike a lot when I was young…

My father was bigger than life. You can see the cocky look on his face. Maybe on mine as well, I’m not sure. Mother was cocky in a more self-assured way, that little smile–she’d done hair modeling as a young woman and was seriously movie star material back then; Dad and I have looks on our faces like “you lookin’ at me? just try and push me around.” Look h ow straight I am sitting compared to my mother and my brother.

Not sure where I got it, perhaps in my genes, because it was not bestowed upon me by parents who told me I was God’s gift to humanity. My father made fun of us, teased us relentlessly, called me fat almost every day. Teasingly, of course.

Perhaps the look on my face is directed at him.

I had a dream, actually a recurring dream, that my father had died and I woke up screaming as they were closing the casket.

Like most fathers, I imagine, mine was wonderful in many ways; awful in some ways. But I didn’t see that. I just knew that somehow I had to make him happy. He’d say, if you asked him now, that he was always happy; I knew he wasn’t, hardly ever, or he wouldn’t have had to drink all the time. Though if he was officially an alcoholic, he was a functioning one. His job was to sell heavy equipment and he hung around in bars with his “customers,” leaving my mother’s neglected dinners to congeal on abandoned counters. “I got ‘tied up,'” he’d say.

You can’t make someone happy. Not ever. And I knew that intellectually. But I couldn’t be free of his unhappiness somehow.

Now he has Parkinson’s. And we’re both old. Of course, it’s not just happening to him. And it would help immensely if he freed me from his pain, but he never does. I swear. It’s hard to tell if this is conscious, unconscious on his part or made up in my own mind–but I’m pretty sure it’s all of the above.

I’m sure I’ll never be free of his pain, but I’ve got to at least remove it from myself to a degree, I have to separate sometime.

It would be good if that happened before he died. Stop living every second of it with him. Keep some semblance of my life: write, fish, hike, exercise, cook.

If I get Parkinson’s, I want it to be mine, not his.

3 thoughts on “Carnivore Dreams – Vicarious Pain

  1. Your mother is beautiful. And though you don’t look like her (not in this photo, anyway), you are equally beautiful. And your straight back and projected confidence is wonderful.

    I used to be confident too, once upon a time.

  2. This is a beautiful post..reminded me of my parents!🖤
    As I grow old and understand things more, I have found new respect for my folks. But, there are a few things we’d still never see eye to eye on.
    I saw your mother’s photo in the other post and had to come here and read this. She reminded me of Ingrid Bergman! 😊
    Wish them good health!

  3. Thanks for the thoughts. Yes, sometimes you just reach an acceptance of things in a relationship. Ingrid, huh? Never got that one before on Mom’s pictures! Loretta Young sometimes, Donna Reed they say, Ava Gardner (Ava’s features are a bit more severe), Jane Russell, also a bit more severe. But not ever gotten Ingrid! Always glamorous stars, though. 🙂

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