Friday, November 13, 2009

Why I Do Not Waste A Lot Of Time On My Family

I called up my father to try and explain my health problems and my decision to retire. He kept interrupting me to tell me that he was fine. Finally I managed to speak my piece.
My father: "So, you sound great. You feel great. That's all I need to know."

Me: "No, Dad, listen. I've been sick off and on for a year now. I've been having a lot of trouble with infections. I've been having real bad problems with asthma and I'm having trouble controlling my diabetes. That's what i've been trying to tell you."

My Father: "The doctor says I've been doing as well as can be expected for my age. I guess that's all you can hope for. I'm glad you're doing good too."

Me: No, Dad, listen. Like I said, I've already started the paperwork. I'm going to retire in April."

My Father: "OK, well, that sounds great. Did you figure out how to get over here yet?"

Me: "Yeah Dad. There's a bus straight from the train station. It drops me off at your front door."

My Father: "Well, I just wanted to say. Don't come by here tomorrow. I'm busy. The rest of the week should be OK."

Me: "OK Dad, I'll see what I can do. I just wanted you to know that this is pretty serious. I can't keep working seventy hours a week. I'm going to have to take care of myself so I'm retiring. "

My Father: "Retiring? How the heck are you gonna retire? You don't have any money."

Me: "Dad, I have a pension. I have savings. My medical insurance is paid for the rest of my life. I'm not too worried about that."

My Father: "You have savings? When did you get smart? You were never smart. "

Me:" Jesus, Dad, I've worked for the bridge for 22 years. What do you think I've been doing all these years?"

My Father: "Don't let them talk you into buying one of those big stretch limousines and working out at the airport!"

Me: "What?"

My Father: "That's how they get you. They make it sound like you'll make a lot of money but it's not true. They end up taking all of your money."

Me: "Hey, Dad, I've been in this business since I was a teenager. I know all about all of those owner/operator scams."

My Father: "OK, well, I'll let you go. Everything here is OK. You sound great. I'll talk to you."

Me, Yeah, OK. Bye Dad"

You might think that the communications problems have something to do with his age and hearing problems. This was a better than average conversation with my father. He's been like this my whole life.

Family Bible- Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen (Buy)


DUTA said...

Lack of communication between parent and child is at any age, a sad thing.

Birdsong said...

You know I feel your pain with the father thing, Jon. At least he was being self centered and thick instead of verbally abusive - like you have to choose one. But the saddest thing about this kind of "lack of communication" is that the child repeatedly suffers frustration and disappointment that can't really be grown out of. Still we keep wishing/praying/hoping for understanding and that's probably the right thing to do.

P.S. I love the "idyllic" vision of family in the song you posted. Commander Cody, indeed.

@eloh said...

I don't even know what to say. I just had to e-mail back and forth with my sister and her answer to an important question.... I wonder if she can read.

I quit with the telephone because her retelling of our conversations were .. just left field and in no way what I had said.

I think a lot of old people get self centered, especially if they leaned that direction their whole lives.

bfp said...

ugh. i've had those convos. i'm sorry that i'm not the only one. i hope that retirement does help with the health problems--just being able to get some rest should do something for you, hopefully! here's to taking care of yourself!

Jon said...

I'm honored and pleased to hear from all of you, but I've gotta tell everyone to click on BFP's name and follow the link to her blog. She challenges assumptions, including her own, every time she writes. Occasionally she leaves me feeling a little over challenged and uncomfortable but I am usually grateful for the experience. Occasionally she flat out leaves my heart singing.

To BFP I have to say that I finally booked an appointment with the community acupuncture clinic near work. Thanks to you, I had some understanding of what to expect. Not only was my treatment a positive experience, I also feel somewhat relieved of my breathing problems and my depression. I haven't felt at all well for most of the last year. Feeling a little bit better has made me aware that I had begun to consider illness normal and health weird. I've already made follow up appointments.

ib said...

You know, Jon, It's not so bad. It sounds pretty much like he wants to speak directly with you and can't.

A lot of fathers are like this. I am not apologising for their inarticulacy.

He wants to let you know he is alright. It would probably kill him to admit to love.

Shit. My own dad died when I was seventeen years old. It took me a long time to reconcile a whole lot of crap.

He is so obviously proud of you. That's the thing. It's there in every damn gap in the telephone conversation you reported.

I was with my grandfather a couple of days before he died. He thought I was a waste of space. It was also scarily clear he loved me.

That's hard candy.

Well. It's the way it is, as Elvis said. You will be okay. Your dad will be okay.

Love from Glasgow, brother.

Jon said...

Brother Ib, More on that soon

Elizabeth McClung said...

I am sorry for the feeling of frustration but amazed at the ability to make the kind of leaps in conversation that goes on, while not responding to the triggers that he seems to want to hit you with. I am sorry about the health issues. Sorry that family is not showing how it really does matter, these things in a life.

I read BFP on your suggestion and will continue to do so.

Jon said...

Elizabeth, your blog looks familiar. One of my best friends is, like yourself, a wheelchair user and an academic. He gave me a modest education in disability politics. Because of that I used to follow a couple of bloggers who were writing about disabilities.
I think I came across you back then. Sorry, too much information and it all starts to get vague. You seem like my kind of people. Nice to hear from you.
I hope you like BFP. She combines love, anger and critical thought in a way that I consider pure poetry.

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