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Dreams from my father

I have my father's youthful face. There is a picture of him taken in his army uniform shortly after he was drafted. It looks like me, even now.

I also have my father's name, with “Junior” tacked on the end.

But, if we were standing next to each other, no one would mistake us for each other.

I don't have the stresses my father did - a struggling business that he grew literally with own hands, a stay-at-home wife who raised two kids. He was 25 years old. He had wanted to be a lawyer. But as a teenager, he was a bit of a troublemaker with problems with authority. He hung with a rough crowd, racing cars and chasing girls. (He tells stories about the former; I'm presuming the latter.)

Right now, I'm considerably older than he was then. I still look like that old photo of him in his army uniform. I'm often mistaken for a law student, which would put me as appearing in that age bracket. And I still don't have those kind of responsibilities.

I didn't know what I wanted to be. I loved school, loved the structure of it. So I tried to find myself in the hallways of academia and eventually found myself in law school. I was a teacher's pet, the guy who broke the distribution curve. I hung out with nerds. I didn't get my driver's license until I was 18 and in college. Even then, cars were transportation to school and home. They were not the freedom my father needed.

I go to work. Unlike when you work for yourself, depending on the payment of others, the paychecks come consistently. My wife works, too. She travels a lot and her paychecks come consistently. We're not rich, but we don't struggle for the basics. We don't have children. Our two cats are pretty self-reliant.

Beyond how we look, there are the other things my father and I don't have in common.

My father is useful. He's a gifted jack-of-all-trades. I've watched him repair trucks and fix almost everything in our old family house. He is a thin, wiry man, but physically stronger than anyone else I've ever met. Dad's happiest with some sort of tool in hand. He likes grease under his fingernails.

I'm an abstract thinker who likes the big picture. I call myself “mechanically reclined.” Our cats beat me up on a regular basis. I prefer books. I resist manual labor. I wash my hands after I touch something dusty.

But there are moments when we are the same:

When I laugh or smile, I feel the wrinkles where I've seen his grow over the years.

I hear his words and phrasing come out of my mouth. rosepurr loves it when I cuss at traffic because it's my father's voice, thick with Brooklyn, that comes out.

My dad and I both have a habit of drifting off into the ether, staring into nothing, our minds blank. It drives our respective spouses crazy.

We like to laugh, big hearty belly laughs that hurt our ribs and bring tears to our eyes.

We're both very committed to the ones we love.

We're both tough guys who play our cards close to the vest.

We're both frustrated by the stupidity of others.

And when my mom died five years ago, we both couldn't stop crying. We have spent the last few years trying to figure out who we are in a world without her. It's a daily struggle.

Like she always told me, a mix of scorn and love in her voice, "You're just like your father."

[Posted for LJ Idol Week 4 - "I Think I Thought You Were Someone Else (Mistaken Identity)"



( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 16th, 2008 11:10 pm (UTC)
I liked this immensely. I am compared to my grandmother often though we are worlds apart... then I see her in myself everyday, more and more, and I get it.

Great job!
Oct. 17th, 2008 01:59 am (UTC)
Thank you and thanks for reading.
Oct. 17th, 2008 12:00 pm (UTC)
Nice entry Junior. :)
Oct. 17th, 2008 02:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
Oct. 17th, 2008 02:43 pm (UTC)
Nice entry!
Oct. 17th, 2008 02:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
Oct. 17th, 2008 03:38 pm (UTC)
This is very well written. I liked this line:

Like she always told me, a mix of scorn and love in her voice, "You're just like your father."

for many reasons. First, that it's written in a way that people can very much identify with the experience. Second, because it pricks the heart as the reader comes to the conclusion.

love it. great job.
Oct. 17th, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much.
Oct. 17th, 2008 03:38 pm (UTC)
I really liked this. It's very touching. Good job.
Oct. 17th, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
Oct. 17th, 2008 04:25 pm (UTC)
An excellent post, and a nice glimpse into who you are! I like the "mechanically reclined" phrase, too!
Oct. 17th, 2008 04:51 pm (UTC)
Oct. 17th, 2008 06:26 pm (UTC)
This is great as always. It definitely shows the affection you have for your dad.
Oct. 17th, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)
Oct. 17th, 2008 11:03 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this. And I get beat up my cats regularly, too.
Oct. 20th, 2008 12:04 am (UTC)
YAY! The cats really do run this place.

Thanks for reading.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 20th, 2008 12:03 am (UTC)
Thank you so much.
Oct. 18th, 2008 04:22 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed reading this. It sounds like you've embraced the differences as well as the similarities with good effect. Thanks for sharing with me and letting me read.
Oct. 20th, 2008 12:00 am (UTC)
You're welcome. Thanks for reading.
Oct. 18th, 2008 11:48 am (UTC)
Okay, now I'm crying at 8am on a Saturday morning, thanks a lot!! ;-)
When Owen has little, people used to tell us he "smiled with his whole face".....when I shared that with Dad, he said people said the same thing about him when he was a child.
Thanks for the gentle reminder of our blessings.....
Oct. 19th, 2008 11:58 pm (UTC)
YAY! Thanks for reading
Oct. 18th, 2008 02:28 pm (UTC)
Great entry.
Oct. 19th, 2008 11:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
Oct. 19th, 2008 04:06 am (UTC)
Aww, sweet entry.
Oct. 19th, 2008 11:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
Oct. 19th, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
I absolutely loved this.
Oct. 20th, 2008 12:05 am (UTC)
Thank you so much.
Oct. 20th, 2008 01:06 am (UTC)
That was beautiful!
Oct. 20th, 2008 02:18 am (UTC)
Thank you and thanks for reading.
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )


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