Wednesday, August 24, 2005
My dad is really interested in Chinese culture, so much so that my children call him "Gung-Gung." This is a Chinese word that the father's daughter's children call him (the son's children call him something else). I even checked out a library book for him to read during his stay, a book about Chinese-American culture. Now I'm wondering if I jinxed the visit. I've been through a lot with my Dad, he and my mom divorced when I was a baby and I wasn't raised by him at all (although he did teach me to sing "hava nagila" when I was 6). In my teen years, I wanted nothing to do with him. I think I wanted to have a perfect family, and having this kooky dad out in California didn't fit my vision. Every time he'd call, I'd have my mom tell him I was out. When I was first becoming frum, I had this great friend/dorm-counselor. One night we were schmoozing, and she asked me to tell her about my dad. So I went on and on, and finally she said "you know, the person you are describing sounds exactly like you." WHOA. That was heavy. And true. I have learned to accept that my dad is a great guy; smart and amazing and generous, creative and loving and fun. But he wasn't capable of being a father to me, or a husband to my mother. His debilitating bouts of depression robbed him of normalcy, and they still do. It's okay though, he's married to a loving (non-Jewish) woman who takes care of him and accepts him. He has long-time friends who are used to his dark days. And he has a daughter who sighs when she misses him, and who wishes him a refuah shleimah.