A Birthday Mystery

As I reflect today on 43 years on God’s green earth three stories keep rolling through my mind. I’m not sure exactly how they are connected, but I have a feeling they are, and I’m fairly certain I’m supposed to figure it out. Maybe you can help me?

(Note* The first two stories are things I don’t talk about very often, and many do not know. If you’re not looking for that much knowledge about me well, you’ve been warned.)

The first story - When I was 3 my Mom got divorced, and while I know there are different sides to every story and details I probably wasn’t aware of, the fact of the matter is that my biological father was largely absent from my life from that point forward. There were some visits. There was some contact, but what I remember most is that he would cancel visits often, show up very late, and sometimes not at all - and his new wife is one of 3 things I’ve had nightmares about in 43 years. She was just not a nice person. His stepsons were no walks in the park either.

So it’s understandable I think that after awhile I became detached, and eventually I just got pissed off and said I didn’t really give a damn, and I didn’t.

The last time I remember seeing Wayne, his name is Wayne - was the Christmas of what must have been 1978. I remember the year because it is part of the story. You see Wayne asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and with my “I don’t give a damn attitude,” I decided to go pie in the sky and ask for all the things I really wanted - top 3 on my list.

I wanted a rocket, a whole box of hockey cards, and a television set, and when I showed up for Christmas at my Grandmother’s (Wayne’s mother), I got exactly those 3 things and that was the last Christmas I spent any time with Wayne.

The rocket went back to his farm where we were “going to” set it off together. The hockey cards were combined with the rest of my card collections, played with and eventually sold when I was 19 or so because I was short on cash.

I still have the television. It still has the sticker that says 1978. It hasn’t been turned on in years. Even with a cable adapter it’s probably not even usable with all the new digital cable and such, but I cannot seem to let it go. I once put in on the truck at the thrift store, but immediately panicked and pulled it back. It was in our last garage sale, but I was relieved when no one bought it. Today, it sits with a collection of other garage sale items that have yet to be disbursed. I don’t know that it will be among those to go.

I don’t know why...

The second story - When I was 6 my Mom met and married a great guy who had no qualms whatsoever about her having kids. Instant family just add Rick, as a friend of mine would say. My Dad (Rick), wasn’t an instant father sensation, but he did pretty well for himself in the parent department and we grew very close. When I’m talking about my Dad, I’m talking about Rick. By the time I was 7 or 8 I was using Rick’s last name and when I was 14 he adopted me and I was officially his son.

My Dad is in Quality Control, which for folks who don’t know means - we moved a lot. QC folks can take one of 3 paths when they come into a new job. 1. They go into the company and tell the employees what they need to change, the employees balk - eventually the QC guy pisses off the wrong head honcho and they part ways. 2. The QC guy goes in, the employees adopt his methods, everybody loves everybody - The QC guy gets bored because there is nothing to fix. He stays with the company and retires pretty miserable. 3. The QC guys finds a new challenge at a new company, moves and the cycle continues.

My Dad chose the 3rd option so we moved a lot. Sometimes that was not as much fun as it sounds like.

Inevitably, at some point shortly after a move my Dad would notice that I wasn’t happy or I was sulking or I was bored or some other indicator he never shared with me, and we would head off on a Saturday morning car ride, and then to breakfast or brunch. Something like that. As an adult, I realize that my Dad was trying to get me to talk to him, to let him know how I was feeling, what was going on in my head, probably trying to determine if there was something he could fix.
As a kid, because my Dad would just say: “let’s go for a ride,” I always thought he had something up his sleeve. Were we going somewhere really cool? Were we picking up one of my friends from our old neighborhood at the bus station? Things like that.

I would get all amped up, end up giving him one word answers to every question he asked, be pissed off that we didn’t do anything “good,” and eat a disappointing meal I couldn’t wait to get home from.

Why didn’t I ever just ask my Dad what he was doing?

The third story - Last Saturday we went out with some friends to celebrate 2 birthdays, mine and my friend Renee’s.

While we were out I was talking to another friend and she stopped and asked me: “How are you doing?”

I could tell that she really wanted to know how I was, my mental state, my life condition if you will, so I paused, thought about it and said: “You know, I’m doing really good.”

She said: “I can tell. You seem a lot happier lately.”

We talked a little more about things that were happening, jobs, family, such... but I in the back of my mind, and still today apparently I keep coming back to that. What does “You seem a lot happier lately” mean?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad my friend noticed that. I’m glad I’m showing folks I’m as happy as I am. Still, as it has been quite some time since I was unhappy I’m wondering what has changed.

How have I changed?

So there you have it - Three stories rolling through my head -all with what I think are pretty significant questions - not seemingly related, but somehow I think they are.

Can you help me figure it out?


Anonymous said...

Three very different very interesting questions. The first is easy. You wanted a dad who cared and yours cared only enough to keep you wondering. The wondering makes you keep the TV. What if?
The second question is that of a kid. You cannot blame yourself for being a kid. Of course you thought a ride would produce something as you were so unhappy and your dad always thought of ways to make you happier you thought he would come up with something better than questions.
Finally, maybe you don't realize that you project unhappiness most of the time. There are aspects of your life that lead you to being angry, frustrated and unhappy. You show it in your demeanor and your face. That is why if you are happy it is easy to see.
Simple answers from a simple person who thinks the world of you!

LynneF said...

Hmmm... all three stories relate to happiness. Wayne tried to buy happiness for you and even if it didn't really work, you cling to its intention? Rick tried to cheer you up or get to the bottom of your unhappiness with being in yet another new place. And a friend notices that you are more effective lately at projecting your happiness, or that you are letting it outshine your discontent.