Mom & Dad

Struggling To Understand Those Mysterious Fellow Americans, and My Trump Voting Father

It totally shocked me when dad said he’d vote for him, and this is late fall 2015. Driving back from dodge, he was taking me home after a weekend visit, and colour me stunned, I heard those words and I admit I was so surprised he thought that.

With the clock ticking down on this incompetant boob, ushering in a new president down yonder, I’ve been thinking a lot about how dad feels about all that’s conspired down there since the election.

Now, after 4 years of this destructive administration, the Big Lie, the fraud cases he’s lost over and over, state after state, with even his own Attorney General, his precious toady Barr even telling him he was completely off his rocker, and to accept his loss. I mean, the guy almost incited a successful coup to overthrow the government, so he’s dangerous. And my dad voted for him, twice.

Last four years I’ve felt this anxious pit of both dispair and anger at what I saw transpiring in the U.S. I mean, I was born there, not raised there, but I could not just stand back and ignore it. Couldn’t. I had to speak up.

However, there is one person I never spoke to about any of this. My dad.

Now, dad and I are as different as night and day, and in other ways, so much the same – in looks, temper, and we are both news junkies. Or, er, well, I read the news, dad binges on CNN and Fox.

If I’m honest, I don’t think my dad was ready to be a dad. Maybe that has played a role, big role, in my relationship with him.

Now, I mean, mom WANTED WITH ALL HER HEART to be a mom. Maybe not quite so quickly after they were married (she once confided), but, dang, growing up I swear I could not shake her off. She loved us, my sister and I, with every fibre of her being, unconditionally. This is a fact I’ve never questioned, knew this my whole life, have felt it my whole life. I am empowered by that.

I am highly independent, and I moved out when I was 19, and if I’m honest to get some distance between me and mom. God, I love her, but I’ve never been one who liked to snuggle, hug, be close. Even from when I was very small mom said, I never wanted to be close, always pushing away, off on my own. I walked early, talked early, and was an all round absolute handful for a young new mom stuck in a dinky trailer hundreds of miles from home, alone.

Actually, you know, the last thing mom said to me was how much she loved being a mom.

There we were that last night she spent in the hospital, before we took her home, I in my cot by her bed, she completely out of it, on all sorts of meds. For instance, she talked about the doctors in the hospital all having dogs that protected them. Like seriously, she said that. Now, bonkers as that sounds, I later found out they used to have research animals in the basement, so, hey. Who knows.

So, that night before we took her home, was a precious memory, because she told me lots of stuff, and she said that she LOVED being a mom.

See, she was dying of cancer, and it had metastasized to her brain, and this night was the night before she lost her voice forever to the last stroke, just 8 days before she died.

I don’t even know if she knew it was me, or who I was, I just asked her questions, and she answered them. I wrote it all down.

So, yeah, don’t go all thinking I’m saying I was robbed of my dads love, cause mom more than made up for what dad lacked in parental affection. Like, made up in spades.

Watching mom and dad together growing up, the other thing I could count on is I knew they loved each other. I maybe had a faery tale, rose-colour glasses view, but I know they did.

But with my dad? You know, the first time he ever said he loved me, I had to actually make him.

I was 17 yrs old, sitting upstairs on the landing of the homestead, listening to my mom cry. No idea why (at the time), mom was devastated about something, and I had no idea what, but god help me, that man was NOT going to be making MY mother cry.

So I stomped downstairs and yelled at him, tears streaming down my face, I was so incredibly angry at him. I was livid that this man thought he had any rights what so ever, to actually make mom cry. He had been there for NOTHING.

No events, unless he was dragged.

Vacations together to wherever were not jolly events like I see on TV, hear from others I know. No, dad grumble the whole time, and rarely ever looked like he was having fun. He was a trucker, and spent his life behind a wheel, and driving anywhere with his entire family in tow was not really a vacation to him.

I mean, sure, I totally get that. It stressed him out.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I know my dad loves me. Heck, I know now as a 53-year-old adult that emotions for my father are like blawdy pulling teeth. He just has an incredibly difficult time with them.

Mom once told me that before he started his truck to start the day, he had this thing he did on his leg. Some hoodoo mark thing he’d have to do just right, or start over, and as he did it he would pray for us, to keep us safe.

Given my dad never really went to church, for me this seemed strange, However, in the context of growing up in the south in the 50s and 60s with evangelical revival hoogey-moogey Christianity all around him, with their roots in the Gaelic and Germanic peoples that first settled North Carolina, it’s not surprising.

Which, actually come to think of it, is another trait I got from him. I’m, while not religious, I have this deep spirituality that rests inside, a sense of connection to the divine I guess. Something that feels to me more deep southern paganish roots, than high Anglican Canadian.

I also share his trait of sucking at expressing emotions. However, I was lucky to have been raised by women of strength and courage and wisdom to help me.

And, as mom always told me, dad just didn’t grow up like I did. He didn’t have the whole family thing, with mom and dad and family vaca, friends over for pool parties, and such.

My Carolina Grandma - Drawing
Self-portrait drawn by Grandma, Dad’s mom
Note from drawing: In my shirt & overalls and straw hat ready for field work in late 1930’s – Working in the fields away back when wasn’t always fun, but we had some good times when the work was done.
*see She Walked In Beauty

No, dad grew up down south, very poor. His mom was gentle and sweet, but mentally ill, and a father who was a good good man and loved my grandma, protected her, took care of her. Now, my grandpa worked as a projectionist in movie houses, but, dad was the middle child, and dad was a foul-mouthed little shit (mom’s words) who was way way beyond either of their ability to handle.

So, at 9 years old dad went to live with his grandma, his mom’s mom, at the tobacco farm out in rural Pitt County.

Now, again, my great grandma was a good woman, but she was not that lovey-dovey with sugar on top grandma. I mean, this was a farm, and held the common belief that there be very little a day picking tobacco in the hot North Carolina sun can’t fix.

With his uncles around him, guiding him… well, generally guiding him, I suppose, he grew up. He was petulant, lippy, boastful, arrogant and could be very cruel, much like most of the boys of his age, in that time.

One story that haunted him, was growing up he was invisible, and often heard his own family say horrible things about his dad. That he was useless, weak, dumb, poor, all sorts of mean things that stuck with dad his whole life.

My Tobacco Chewing Man
Drawing grandma did of grandpa she called ‘My Tobacco Chewing Man.
*see Poetry & Drawings Of My Carolina Grandma

Just cruel. Saying those kinds of things with the son right there? Hearing these things about his own father?

I often wonder lately if that is maybe why he finds Trvmp so attractive, why he’s so enamoured with his boastful arrogance, his get what he wants attitude.

So, anyhow, as mom always said, dad didn’t grow up, like, AT ALL like we did.

And, so, dad sorta sucked at the whole parenting thing. Not angry sucked, or violent. Just didn’t seem to want to take part in BEING a dad.

Sure, maybe he wasn’t ready for it. He was only 21 when I was born, but mom had just turned 20.

But, that doesn’t explain it all.

Yes, he could feel emotions. Sometimes, I believe felt them too much, and hadn’t learned how to cope. So he kept his emotions hidden away.

So, that night I went downstairs, mom crying, and I laid right in to him about making mom cry, yelling at him how he’d never once said he loved me.

AND I stomped away back upstairs to my room.

Well, I’m sobbing, its, I don’t know, some time later, and there is a soft knock, and there he is.

Tears streaming down his face. Sobbing.

And, he finally told me he loved me. Sobbed it out.

But, why should I have had to FORCE him? Actually yell and scream at him to get him to say it? At 17 years old?

My dad is not an easy man to, I don’t know, understand?

Like, on the one side he sucks at the whole dad thing, but he is loved by his friends. All his friends. Both sides of the border. He is well liked wherever he goes. He’s humble, and quiet, with a soft-spoken southern accent. Polite. Sincere. He didn’t finish school, but he can add numbers in his head, which to moi who sucks at math, is like a friggen magic trick.

Our relationship has never been good, not like him and my sister. They somehow understand each other, and as much as he sucked just as much at dadhood with her, he and her somehow just bonded and get one another.

See, I guess ol’altruistic me, I only, I guess, have held this… felt like he didn’t love me. When I was born, those two and half years I was in the states, living in that dinky little trailer, he drank and went out with his buddies and just drank away everything, left mom in the lurch, all alone in a foreign country with no friends and a baby.

Mom & Me
c1967 – Pitt County, North Carolina

So when I was two and a half she left. Took me and went back home to Canada.

That is the memory, my first, I talked about in the last post.

He hurt me. He hurt me way way way back in the long ago, back when he was that young unprepared new dad, ignoring us.

I have pictures of us when I was small, lifting me up in the air over his head, and I can see my face, a fleeting thing, a mirage that disappeared almost as quickly as he appeared. Put me down, and disappeared for days, or so mom said.

He was wild and totally not ready for this thing called love. I think it scared him.

She tried her best to cover for his indifferent demeanour. Still, as a kid ya see what ya see, and no amount of buff and polish was going to fool me.

That stand-offish man was all I saw.

And, here we are, years later. A pandemic and a closed border, and an incompetent piece of crap president separates us, and I struggle to know how to go forward.

I mean, sure, the good guys won, and I did my teensy-weensy minuscule part to maybe get the message out, to #resist. I said what I thought, wrote about what I thought, and still, my father voted for that man, and I still have a hard time with that. Voted for him TWICE.

I just don’t know if I get it. You know? I just sometimes can’t wrap my head around how profoundly misguided he could be, to see that man as anything but trash with cash, a con, a fake, a repulsive misogynistic pompous boob.

HOW is this man my dad?

So, mom died in 2001, and all the stuff since 9/11, this world that has changed so much, she was not around for any of it. After another wife after mom died, and meeting an old girlfriend from back in the day, they married, and eventually he moved back to his childhood home to be with her. All’s well that ends well, eh?

Yeah, that’s what we thought. He’s happy, so we’re happy. Step-mom is sweet and kind and she loves him to pieces, upside down and sideways.

Then, Trvmp comes along.

I could not understand, still don’t really, how he could spend 40 some odd years up here in Canada, and go down there for, what, I don’t know, 5 years, and come back this delusional kool-aid drinkin’ Trvmp supporter? Yeah, and a card carry one, to boot. He once, had us all there in the kitchen, dad, MsB and my sister and brother-in-law, and with a shit eaten grin, out comes his Trvmp supporter card. Looks right at me, twinkle in his eye. Trying to start something. Trying to egg me on.

I mean, I was struck mute and said nothing.

Now, my sister is our conduit. We ‘talk’, I guess you could call it, through her. I never speak to dad about Trvmp, and so anything I know about how he feels I get from her. When dad and I talk, which is rare as hens teeth, it’s about everything else you can talk about that has in no way shape or form in any way going to lead to talking about U.S. politics.

Or, at least that’s the way it’s been since Trvmp was elected.

I am afraid to have my last words to him be angry, and he goes home and I never see him again. You know? He is 75.

Last I spoke to him, which was Christmas, he said to me that he missed home. He told me that he still thinks of here as home. Which, frankly I really didn’t know what to respond with. I was a little stunned to hear him say that.

I often wonder what mom would think of all this. What she would think of that disgusting man dad thinks is so grand and funny and so entertaining (or so he told my sister).

I was furious when I heard that. Entertained?

Maybe, the thing is, dad in a way represents my lack of understanding for that place where I was born, like as a whole. Not just him.

I mean, sure we do have our Trvmp loving morons up here, don’t kid yourself. Lots.

But. Different. We don’t have like whole blawdy counties across the country full of them. They don’t swarm our government buildings with long guns and semi-automatic rifles, and our leaders (so far) don’t act like the smarmy fascists they have been breeding down yonder.

But, so not getting my dad, in some ways does mirror how I still don’t really get my fellow Americans.

The U.S. has a long road ahead, and the Biden Administration has their work cut out. And I’m not planning on taking my eye off the proverbial wheel, as I know that still fully 80% or so of Republicans still actually believe the Big Lie, that Trvmp was cheated.

This isn’t over.

The relationship I have with my dad, well, I’m now not sure how to proceed? When I see him face to face that is. Do I talk to him now about Trvmp? Rub it in his face that I was right? Like I want to. Give him that ol’evil grin he likes to spring, like the Cherish Cat, and say some witty quip about his beloved piece of crap president who lost? As I’d like to.

Anywho.

With Trump careening out of control in his last days, inciting his rapid mob to overthrow the government and install him as dictator for life. In fact, in some ways I think it may just get worse.

Some stuff I’m reading, coming from various sources, there is talk of states seceding (Texas, Wyoming), and with the armed domestic terrorists festering in plain sight throughout the country, it’s not all going to magically change with Biden and Harris.

Yet, the future is unknowable, and hopefully some of this divisive BS and misinformation will fade back into the lunatic fringe, in time.

But, even so, my dad will still be my dad. And I love him, flaws and all.

Which, I might add, we say every single time we talk, cause you just never know when it will be the last.

Comments or Otherwise

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.