Sunday, June 17, 2012

OK ... Out of the closet!

So another father's day has rolled around ... honestly, it's just another day for me.  My son and I spent a lot of quality time together.  Father's day was just another day to hang out together.  Even as a child it did not have the emotional attachment that a birthday or mother's day did ... but my father was an emotionally detached man ... although I'm sure there was some appreciation for the gifts, or dinner or whatever was given, there was no expression of appreciation.

I am in a bit of a mental conundrum right now.  As my transition proceeds, whether quickly or slowly, and I become Tiffanie, what happens to father's day?  It is never really celebrated in our house, but will it become a reminder of who I used to be? ... Who I never really was?  Will it become a celebration of me finding myself and living life to the fullest?  The reality is I will always be my son's father even if I do not physically resemble a male anymore.  My brain just cannot seem to grasp this yet,

About the title ... don't get too excited for me.  I just spent about 5 minutes clearing out clothes that either do not fit me, or that are far to dude-like for me to wear anymore.  I held on to my Steelers jerseys, my Mountain Dew, UFC and a couple other shirts, but the rest of his shirts are gone along with the last of his pants ... donated to a local charity for the homeless.

*** *** ***

Date:  1965 to 199? ... whatever year I finally stopped caring what my father's opinion of me was.

So I'm not going to go into a long drawn out "I hated my father" tirade ... I loved my father,  I didn't always understand him, and he definitely did not understand me, but there was no hate nor animosity,

I knew very early that I would never be the man that my father wanted or expected me to be.  I knew very early that my father would never accept me as a girl or anything that he perceived to be unmanly.  I was 8 or 9 years old when I realized that he would call me a daft lass if I didn't agree with him or that I didn't understand what hew was trying to explain to me.  I was a little older when he called me an effeminate queer for the first time ... I honestly don't know why he would say that, but it made my mom angry when he did.

He did try to teach me ... he tried to teach me about cars and engines, but I wasn't very interested.  He tried to teach me about electronics, electricity, making a circuit and other things, but it wasn't the stuff I wanted to learn.  He was not a patient teacher, but I still remember what he taught me.  If I didn't catch on right away he would repeat the same sentence even louder until I said I understood.

He was trying to show me how to adjust the timing on the car.  He pointed the timing strobe at the engine and said, "See that white dot?"

I didn't.

"Why not?  Are you daft?  It's right there/."  He gestured toward 1 of 100 things I was not familiar with.

I still didn't see it.  He got angry and said something I'm sure was hurtful, but I didn't hear him.  "Oh, OK," I said.  I stared intently at the engine.  It turns out I wasn't even looking in the right spot, but I didn't discover this until I took auto shop in college.

I appreciate the many things he showed me, and they have helped me throughout my life, but the truth of the matter is I wanted to go inside and learn how to sew, or crochet, or do needlepoint or other girly things.

My father did not have a close relationship with many of his children.  I think maybe it was because he wanted to hide the fact that somewhere inside he was truly a caring man with deep emotions.

Date - February 1989

I was numb and don't have many clear memories from this time period.  My wife and I had suffered the loss of our first son, Rusty and the world as we knew it was over.

It was the day of the funeral.  My wife and I, her family and my parents sat in the family section away from the rest of the guests.  I don't remember what the pastors said ... some biblical quotes about comfort and other bs that's meant to make the grieving people feel better about things.  As the service ended I turned and saw my mom and dad.  My dad, in his typical military macho way started to say "Be strong" or some other stupid phrase.

I cried.  It was the first real cry I had since my baby's death.  I cried and clung onto my mother.  Through my blurred vision I could see my dad dab a tear from his eyes.  But we didn't have time for all this emotion ... we had to move on to the graveside.

The weather all week had been worsening.  On the day of the funeral it was barely in the 40s, a seriously driving rain and a 30 mph wind with gusts up to 50 ... By Southern California standards this was horrible.  The graveside part of the service was very short, and most scurried to their cars before the last words were uttered.

My wife and I stood there and hugged ... more afraid to let go than trying to support each other.  We didn't want to leave.

In the distance we saw my father, his trench coat pulled tight and holding his hat in place.  He paced back and forth across the graves at the front of the baby area.  He looked somber and intent ... back and forth ... searching.  He had an expression on his face I had never seen before ... despair.  Despair and longing, as if a deep pain needed to be healed.

I would find out later that he was looking for the sister I never knew.  A sister born in 1957 who never made it home from the hospital.  I would learn more about my sister Debbie in the weeks to come when my parents finally decided to share their pain.

I would never look at my dad the same after that.  I saw the human side, and no matter how hard he tried to hide it, I knew it was there.

Dad,

Happy father's day.  I'm sorry I never became the man you expected me to be ... I never had it in me, but I think you knew that all along.  You just did not know how to deal with it.

I always found it a bit strange that you called my other brothers, "Son." bit you always called me, "Little one."  Somehow, some way you knew I was different.  I don't think it's too much of a shock to find out how different.

I hope you choose to be happy for me as I am finally learning to be true to myself, and therefore happy with myself.  The path I have chosen does not mean you failed as a father ... To the contrary, the lessons you taught me to evaluate a situation, analyze all sides of the issue and choose what is best is how I finally reached this point.

I am sure you would not openly accept my life were you still here on this Earth, but I believe you would realize it is what is best for me when all the facts were laid in front of you.

Love,
Your little daughter, Tiffanie.