Saturday, July 02, 2005

1776

I haven't always gotten along so well with my father.

Sometimes things have been pretty bad, and most of the time there seems to exist a sort of standoff; a silent agreement to agree that we disagree on so many things.

The problem may lie in that we are each so much a mirror of the other, in so many ways.

But I have to say that, at the same time, my admiration for him can at times overcome the many differences that exist between us, and that there are some qualities there that have been passed on to me, through no fault nor effort of my own, qualities with a value far greater than anything material, and for which I am very much grateful.

I remember a day a while back, when after visiting over at my place, my parents and I decided to go over to the local hamburger stand to have something for lunch. We drove over, ordered our food, and then sat outside under the patio umbrellas waiting for our order. As we sat together in conversation over various things, my father looked around, and seemed to fade in and out of the conversation as he surveyed the surroundings. You see, as a cop, it has become second nature to scope out an area, to see what is going on, and to make sure that everything is ok. But, on a level deeper than this, as a street kid from Newark, NJ, it is part of a survival mode, to always be aware of your surroundings, and of what is going on, as a matter of self-preservation and survival; an ability to notice that which those of differing circumstances might very well pass by or over. For instance, if one has known hunger, sometimes one can see it in others.

Over at a few tables from us sat a somewhat dishevelled looking dark man, a Mexican immigrant, most likely an illegal, by himself, shirt partially unbuttoned,and black hair flipping about in several different directions. He seemed slightly nervous, which also made him seem a little shifty, as he sat there gazing around at things, like someone unable to communicate in a world foreign to him. His nervousness may also have been somewhat heightened by my father's looking over at him occasionally, silently sizing up his intentions.

I later also noticed the man, and saw my father's eyes shift over to him from time to time, as we ate our lunch. I asked him what the guy was doing. "Nothing", my father said. "He's just sitting there.". The whole thing started to seem a little strange to me, and I began to wonder myself about the man's intentions, and what exactly he was doing sitting over there. My father then said, "He's waiting for us to leave"; to which I thought about, and then eventually asked, "Why is he doing that?". My father responded, "He wants to see if we're going to leave something when we leave.". The man was hungry, something I never would have picked up on, thinking that maybe perhaps there was some sort of danger, something to be wary of. But then, I have never really, truly, been hungry, so how would I know?

My father and mother talked over what to do, and it was decided that, as she speaks Spanish, my mother would go over and ask him if he would like something to eat. She went over, put her hand on his shoulder, and spoke to him for a little bit, and then came back. She said that yes, indeed he would like something to eat. She did also get his name, but this detail I have long since forgotten. My father decided that the man's dignity would better be preserved by buying him a meal personally, rather than by just thrusting money at him. So he went over and ordered a large of each item, hamburger, fries, drink, and gestured to the man that his order would be coming out very soon. The man indicated gratefulness with his hands and with his eyes, maintaining a personal dignity in the midst of a situation of which I am sure also presented some pain and discomfort. We soon were finished, so we gave a casual wave to the man as we left. He waved back,and then began to eat.

It is because of reasons like this, that I am able to overlook my father's faults, to forgive his failures, and even at times to stand in awe and reverance, in an emancipation of sorts from angers of the past. This, I guess, is what freedom means to me.

3 Comments:

Blogger willowtree said...

Is this entry something you would ever consider sharing with your dad? I only ask because I remember having to do an assignment about one of my parents, when it was returned, my instructor wrote "I hope you share this" and I hadnt considered that before, but I did.
Now, I look back and Im happy that I did because of all that has transpired in the years since.
Anyways, it was a good entry. It would be great if your dad could stumble upon it.

9:12 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

I think that sometime I will show him this story, probably when I'm feeling particularly bold (which isn't right now, though). It would serve to break the up the ice a little bit. Thanks for your thoughts on this. Things like this probably should be communicated while the time still exists to do so...

11:30 AM  
Blogger Åñèè§å said...

Isn't it weird...how we react to someone that acts similar to us....we could never stand it...but we nothing wrong with how we act....thats a decent story about ur dad willow tree is right u should tel him about it :)

8:29 PM  

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