Today

On the way to work today I decided to stop off at my father’s bakery to pick up an apple Danish to take into work.

I must have been feeling brave.

When I got there I was not expecting to be served by him.  I only expected to get a glimpse of him out the back of the bakery.  I don’t know why I wanted a glimpse of him.  Maybe because he is my father and somewhere inside me I am still that needy child.

However, when I got there it was he who came out from the back to attend to me.

My anxiety levels exploded out from their hiding place and surged into every part of my body and brain.  Immediately I started to sweat in places I don’t usually sweat  – like the back of my knees.   I could feel it.  My palms where wet.

Of course, I maintained absolute composure.

He asked what I would like.  I told him.

After a minute or so I realised that he did not recognise me at all.  Despite polite eye contact there was not a sign of any realisation that his daughter was standing in front of him.

This realisation gave me the chance to observe him as he organised things for my purchase.   His movements were slow as he put the long apple Danish into the cardboard tray and then into a brown bag.  His voice was quiet and that of an old man.  He looked so different.  So old.

At the end of it I handed him the money and has he gave me the change I said “thanks Dad” and then went to my car.

I wondered if he did actually recognise me and chose to pretend he didn’t.  That is definitely his modus operandi.  Fling the arrow knowing exactly where to cause the most pain.

Then I thought that maybe I had changed so much in the past ten years or so that he really, really had no idea that it was Linda standing there.  After all, I am now a grey haired, tattooed middle aged woman.  My voice is the same though.  My eyes too.

No, sadly I do think he chose not to acknowledge me.

What floored me was how old he looked. How old he moved.  How old he sounded.  He turned eighty last year and I suppose that is kind of old in its own way and he has been sick which is inclined to be ageing in itself.

I don’t mind old.  People get old.  That is how it is unless you die young.  It’s just that, well, I dunno.  Maybe I thought he wouldn’t get that old.  Maybe I thought he would get kind of a different old.

I got to work after that and it took about an hour or so to get back to “normal” anxiety levels.

Now I am having an afternoon cup of green tea and a piece of the pastry I bought.  The slivered almonds encrusted in sugar decorate the pastry as they always did and I have picked a few of them off to see if they are just as delicious as always.

They are.

They have not changed.

Everything else has.

Ciao
LC

6 thoughts on “Today

  1. This post has left me with lots of questions. Did it register on him who you were when you said thanks Dad? Some people who are around that age really don’t hear or see well, but mentally they are sharp and they can seem to get along very normally. What an awkward situation to walk in and have him pretend to not know you!

    I don’t see either of my parents often so it’s kind of a shock to see how much they age after a few years go by. Probably they are thinking the same thing about me!

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  2. Linda,

    Makes me sad to read your post. When my dad left, I was 2 or so years old. I was a daddy's girl & he was suddenly gone

    At 23 years of age, I sought & visited him. He was just as hurt as I was even after al those years

    I could not imagine what you must have felt, sitting in your father's presence, And he not acknowledge you.

    Perhaps he is up in age & quite tired, maybe even sad & lonely. He certainly doesn't seem happy. Eighty years old is long overdue for retirement. Maybe he was extremely surprised to see you & he did not know how to respond.

    In my heart, I want to believe there is reason from his not acknowledging you.

    I'm sorry from your experince.

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  3. R.Jacob: Long time, no see. It was a different father experience this time around. Must be due to therapy. Just sad really.

    KYLady: I did not wait around to see if it registered with him when I said goodbye. I did not actually want to speak to him. I am afraid I am not as robust as I would like in regards to that.

    My sister sees him and he is still as sharp and fiery as always (ie. a rude prick). That is why I think he chose not to speak to me. I cannot begin to explain what a spiteful person he can be. It is very weird.

    However, despite what I just said, I would no doubt forgive him or give him the benefit of doubt. It is not my nature to not do so. (am sure therapist would roll his eyes at me if he read that)

    Anonymous:It is nice to know that you found your father after so many years. I always think there is a lingering sadness when relationships with a parent (or parents) does not go well. It is never too late to get to know each other.

    My dad can be quite mean (putting it mildly) and he would do something like that. He is a man who will work until he drops dead. He is driven by something that he fears – his mortality.

    It is sad but I can say that this time I handled it quite well and I attribute that solely to two years of therapy. I did not allow it to infect my entire day. I felt quite melancholy about it but realised that it was not my fault and I was not the bad child.

    Before therapy it would have set me back terribly.

    Thank you for you comment. It was so touching and I really appreciate it.

    One good thing is that I know my son will never experience such an event. That is so important to me.

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  4. Wow. I don't even know what to say. It is all terribly sad either way, that he chose not to acknowledge you, or that he did not recognize you.

    I went to see my father in the nursing home after not seeing him for about 3 years (we live far apart, plus he had hurt my feelings and I chose not to visit until he became ill).

    However I did recognize him instantly and he did recognize me, and so it helped with the guild when he died that I had gone.

    In a dark, twisted part of me I kind of want you to go there once a week at the same time, order the same thing, and say the same thing, just to bug him or to give him a chance (if he hs any niceness inside at all) to say, I'm sorry I didn't speak last time, you've changed.

    Take care and love, just do the best you can every day, it's all we can do!

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  5. Ms TC: Because I handled it quite well I have pondered about going again. I thought that maybe because he had not seen me for ages and he is now 80 then maybe there was a possibility that it was just one of those things. Really, I know this sounds strange, I would have liked to have been helping him and looking after him a bit now he is older.

    He is always my dad and no amount of therapy is going to make me not love him – even if I don't actually like him. It's always a dilemma for me.

    It's nice that you managed to make peace with your dad. It makes a difference.

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