Posts Tagged ‘parents’

Pleasing the Father

The piece I wrote the night before my father’s funeral. Interesting to see my frame mind. It’s so hard to believe it has been 8 years.

It is impossible to please all the world…and one’s father.”

                                                                                                                        Jean de La Fontaine

 

Many children can agree with La Fontaine. Pleasing their father seems like an impossible task. I would not be one of those children. I am not sure what came first — the fact that I knew I pleased my father or that I aimed to please him.

My earliest recollection of this Tony/Wendy dynamic was Dad having his friends over, perhaps the tennis team from MxCC, and they all took turns whipping a baseball at me.

“Just throw it!” he yelled. “She’ll catch anything.”

Now, in my six-year-old brain (or whatever young age I was at the time), it seemed as though those men whipped those balls at me. My father would tell the story that, yes, they were real baseballs. However, the possibility remains that they only tossed them at me, perhaps tennis balls, and that Dad exaggerated his pleasure at my “talent.” One of the many unanswered questions I’m left with, albeit a bit unimportant.

Tony Giglio…a difficult man. He had no patience whatsoever. As a child and even a young adult, I found this very intimidating. He would snap and bark and growl. Tough as nails and unsatisfied with everything, except me so it seemed. But even this admiration could only go so far and had many limits. If I interrupted at the wrong time, if I asked for a ride to a friend’s house when he didn’t want to drive, if I complained that he made me miss my piano lessons because he was at the Elk’s, if I came in to cuddle with my mother after a nightmare…anything could set him off. I learned to avoid sending him off his teetering edge whenever necessary.

Even with this behavior, we grew close. I chose to help him in the yard whenever he needed it. I loved driving the tractor, using the chainsaw or ax, shoveling, hauling, painting, or whatever task the season demanded. I remember doing these chores from a very young age. I don’t remember how we worked. Did we chat? Perhaps we sang songs or did I prattle on while he just, “Um-hmmed” me, or maybe he initiated conversations as well. I wish for a crystal ball to eavesdrop on those times.

I know that I chose to spend time doing these jobs not only because they interested me much more than any inside chore, but also because he accepted me. I was a strange child for the times. Tomboys were not quite as popular as they are now. From a preschool age I wanted to be a boy. No…I believed I would turn into a boy (at the magic age of twelve no less!) Clearly this would cause my mother a great deal of stress. Not my dad. He would let me help him, act like a boy, work along side him with my shirt off, not saying a word.

And when my mother would come screaming out of the house that I was in fact NOT a boy, scrambling to get my shirt on me, he would calm her saying, “It’s no big deal, Audrey.”

Another way my father proved to be a total anomaly. Fits of rage over the tiniest thing, yet completely calm over something else that should have caused a parent a great deal of concern in 1970.

As I grew older, our relationship changed and I realized how much he looked up to me, and the patience that I had; the control I took over my life and happiness. His admiration grew. I made choices in my life that would make it better. I played high school and college sports traveling all over, while he followed all over the state and country, at times the only fan in the stands as we played in faraway places. I went for degree after degree, certification after certification. I did these things for myself…or so I thought.

I kept my perfect “Al-Anon” boundaries in place, separating myself from him as much as I deemed safe. I had made a conscious choice to disconnect myself from such a powerful influence. As much as I loved this man, I could never have a man like him for a husband. Having dated only three boys in my young adult life, I realized they all could have changed their names to “Tony Giglio” with so many similarities in their addictive (and not always kind) qualities. I had no choice but to set boundaries and maintain a safe distance, managing that “loving detachment” in order to maintain a relationship with my father.

I had never regretted that willful decision…until now. While I still don’t want his abusive and addictive traits in my husband, I want more time with him as a father. In separating, I focused on his negative points and I have missed the good ones: His sense of humor, his approval, his devotion to my sports, his love for my children, his love of reading and writing. I had forgotten the tender times: The money he gave me after my dog died unexpectedly so I could buy another one, the notes he would leave for me at airport terminals if he left one of my tournaments earlier than I did. How my teammates would love looking for the notes, wishing their fathers had even called to find out how the games had gone, let alone flown out to see them and then leave little love notes at the airport. The constant invites to ski, every winter weekend filled with an excursion. I feel lost as the skiing season approaches and I have to head down a slope without him, something I cannot remember doing.

I hate hindsight. It’s always late. We can see things that should have been obvious from the start. I see that my degrees were done in part for him…because of him. He directed me in my route to my masters, finding a school and program for me. I can see how doing well in school, while never really talked about in our house was simply expected. Even with his absence in that household as I grew up, I understood that I would do well in school.

So here I am with my perfect hindsight vision, longing to tell him things, to ask him questions, but it’s too late. I will continue to strive for the best in my life and my children’s lives, but I have learned that above all else, I am my father’s daughter, a fact that I never like admitting even when people would ask,

“Are you Tony Giglio’s daughter?”

I will embrace that now and the heritage that he has left me. I will always love white lilies and will make sure my children do as well, understanding their significance in our lives. I will always make sure that they know about the Island de Giglio. They will ALWAYS love the Red Sox. And I will work to accept them for who they are and what they want out of life, pushing them to strive for excellence …always.

Goodbye, Dad. I love you.

Your Pumpkin

W. Fiore 2007