Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Georgia dreaming on a New York City fire escape...

It's a tiny lie. I haven't actually gotten out on to the fire escape yet. There's still a little cleaning up to do out there from last year's gardening. Also, it's been raining for what feels like weeks. Ordinarily though, that's where I do my dreaming. I get to be outside, in the buzz of the street but safely above at the same time. If I could, I would invite all you readers to join me out there on a sunny morning.

Sunny mornings are what I dream about on sunny mornings. I have an attachment to the sun. My mom thinks it's because I'm a Leo, I think it's because I'm part Inca. Whatever the reason, I'm like a cat, I turn into a gooey puddle wherever there is a patch of sun. Eventually, I'd like to upgrade from dreaming on my fire escape to dreaming on a porch, or a balcony, or even just in a nice grassy patch that I come to own.

Punky is from Georgia. Actually, she's sort of an all over southerner. She was conceived in South Carolina, born in North Carolina and raised primarily in Georgia. Georgia is still where her father lives, in the same white house at the bottom of a hill where she left him when she was packed in a car and taken away.

Last summer for the first time in ten plus years, she was able to go back. Of course, The Brat and I went with her. It turned out to be fun. For being a city person, I have always liked the country. Just one of those things I guess. Small town people long for the city, and city people long for the country.

I'd love to say that the reunion was wonderful and joyous, but that would be an overstatement. In true southern form, Punky's dad took her return from exile with the same enthusiasm that he applies towards the sun shining. He's just a laid back sort of dude.

Since that one time trip Punky and I have come to understand that his relaxedness about her return was not an offense or an insult, but just the natural reaction of a man that had always sort of held a place for her in his heart and home. Sort of.  It all comes down to expectations again.

If I put myself in his shoes, if I imagined a world in which I had not seen or heard from The Brat in ten years I imagine that there would be many tears and much squishing of the kid. I also don't buy the BS that this is because I am housed in a chick body and therefore chicks cry. Sorry, I believe real men cry. I know they do.

So why the lack of emotions? We still don't actually know. Sure, we have a lot of thoughts and theories but nothing actually concrete.

The new wife, Punky's step-mom, says he's just a man and that's about it.

Punky's dad.. who sometimes goes by Batman.. is sixty years old. Is that too old to teach a dog a new trick? I initially say no, but that no sometimes changes to yes, and then the man surprises us with new tricks that put me back at square one.

Batman is complicated.

The part that Punky and I struggle with the most is that age-wise they are jumping in to that part of child/parent life that is tricky enough on it's own without throwing in kidnapping and other bits. As he grows older it will be her job to be the provider/care taker. This isn't a role she's ready for.

It's already horribly frustrating to her to have to be the voice of reason to her much older patriarch. He's sixty and she's twenty-five. In an ideal world she'd be sowing wild oats while he'd be the voice of reason. It would be his job as the dad to advise her about money, remind her to save and put away for a future, to pick her up when she was down and keep an eye on her health. Instead, it's the other way around. Her reunion with her father didn't allow for her to be the child she missed out on being. So far, she has been the educator.

Me? I have no patriarch. Mine happened to die when I was tiny because he was a foolish old man who was too old to be having babies. I love him, I do, but sometimes I hate him too. His absence in my life caused a lot of unpleasantness.

These new waters that we are navigating a little scary, and very .. I don't know the word.

It seems to turn out a lot that nothing is ever ideal. However, my own personal beliefs don't really allow for me to sit back and say oh well, that's how the cookie crumbles. I know that if I want something done, or to happen, I've got to help it along. I've got to put myself in it to get what I want out of it.

Unfortunately, I also haven't had the greatest of luck with In-Laws. Once bitten-twice shy kind of stuff. It'll be sort of a big deal to pour myself into these new In-Laws who may or may not be able to be shaped into something closer to ideal.

Mostly, it feels like Punky and I spend a lot of time stomping our feet and crying out It's Not Fair! It shows how young we are, not only in years but emotionally and spiritually.

So.. why the Georgia dreaming? Well, this year we won't be returning there. It's a very expensive trip to us of very limited funds. We'd probably spend about two thousand dollars to spend a month or so there, and sadly we wouldn't get much out of it. The way I was raised, you never stay in someone else's home, even if they're family, without pitching in. So, when we went to Georgia, I did a lot of grocery shopping, almost all the cooking, and Punky and I both even cleaned their home from top to bottom. Dude.. that's a story for another day.

Punky's dad on the other hand never so much as took one day off of work, save for the day he picked us up from the bus station. He ate the meals we prepared in his bedroom rather than say the kitchen or living room. And, most hurtful of all, he maintained the same day to day routine the whole time his only daughter was there. Which is to say he'd get home from work, shower, watch Days of Our lives, eat then head to bed.

The only exceptions were twice when Punky's brother came over to watch Nascar, and of course there was little talking or bonding as the race was on.

We just can't justify spending two grand on a vacation to the middle of nowhere a place where we essentially blend into the walls.

So what do we do? Do we try and shape them into a more loving ideal family? Or, is that wrong to do and should we just accept them as they are, flaws and all? After all, isn't that how family is supposed to be loved?

Bonus question to Aine, and Jeanne, obviously we'd both love your input and hope to receive it, but you've both also mentioned husbands, children, and grandchildren. As Punky and I have almost no males in our lives, would it be too forward to ask what their two cents might be? Could it really be a male thing to feel little towards a child that is taken away from you for ten years?

Punky is her father's only daughter, and she was parentally kidnapped by her mother. He never called the police, never organized any kind of a searched, and only sort of looked for her by getting into his car and driving around different states hoping to find her. ( Punky and I still don't really understand how this was supposed to work. ) When I first met Punky years ago, she had no hope of ever finding her family again. She didn't remember phone numbers, or addresses. I was the one who insisted they could be found. It took a couple of months, but we found her dad. She called, and left a message. He called back, and left a message, and finally, they got each other on the phone.

It took a little over a year before she actually laid eyes on him. Essentially, because that was how long it took to save up the money to get there. Neither of us has steady work. Her father did however. In that year though, he never offered to bring her home, he never saved up the money himself, and come to find out way later that he and his wife have some alcohol problems and were spending something like five hundred dollars a month on alcohol. All that money on alcohol, plus money on cigarettes, but no effort to either get to his daughter, or get his daughter to him.

What do you think, my dear Abby's?



  1. Some random thoughts...

    re: In-laws ~ Never had much luck either. The first set were a mixed blessing. FIL thought I was great for his son but MIL told me flat out to my face that I wasn't good enough for her son. Hhmph!! Second set, FIL was great (now deceased). Mil is okay now, but I really had to assert myself so that she wouldn't walk all over me. I think in-laws are best when they don't live in close proximity. And I am going to try and remember this once I move back around my DILs.

    re: Aging parents ~ This is a subject that all siblings should discuss together - what to do when the parents are no longer able to care for themselves. I've been down this road. But you can't manage parental care or supervision from afar. That has to be taken care of by those offspring that actually live by the parents.

    You can't change a person. No matter how much you might want to. People have to want to change themselves. So any efforts that are put forth to change Punky's (father) family into a more loving one will be for naught and only serve to frustrate you and Punky.
    Society (and the media) have given us some very unreal expectations on how and what a family should be. A family should be a loving unit of people. Maybe that unit will include the parents. Maybe not. If there is no love or concern shown, then that person does not need to be part of the family unit. And yes, if you really love someone, then you love them WITH all their flaws and quirks and idiosyncrasies.
    Men are hardwired a bit differently than women so that they do not show or express emotion as freely. BUT, emotion will still be shown by men who care.

    OK, now for some personal reflections.... It's really hard when a person's childhood is stolen from them. But a person has to pick themselves up and not mourn what is never to be regained. The future dawns anew everyday and we should all make the most of that fresh start. Dragging along one's past is like dragging a ball and chain. It only serves to weigh us down with bitterness.
    Some men were raised (especially the older generations) to not show emotion or become too involved with the family unit. Others simply do not have the proper genetic coding or perhaps they have a mental or physical condition that does not allow them to really 'care' (my father was an example of all these).
    My current Hubby (#2) welcomed my kids with open arms and has treated them as his own. The bond that has developed between them all is amazing. The first time I saw Hubby cry was when our kids left home. The kids turn to him for help/advice before they will turn to their biological father.

    I know Punky is wanting her 'family' back. But I feel that she is chasing an elusive dream. One that very well might consume her. If it were me, I would put my efforts into making the most of the family that she has - you, the Brat, your Mom. I would cultivate the fertile soil at home before trying to cultivate the sterile Georgia soil. (If you catch my drift)

    Now that I have rambled on, I'll shut up ...I hope I have given some food for thought...

  2. Lost the post - again.


    First, Does Punky know why her mother kidnapped her and kept her from her Dad? I mean, usually this is done to protect the child. Perhaps the substance abuse was an issue even then, or even something worse.

    I agree with Jeanne on this.

    Of course it's natural to want to find and have a relationship with your parents, but maybe he doesn't feel worthy of it - or doesn't feel capable of it. There's a chance he doesn't have all that much to give, and if that's so, then her mother did her a favor.

    If she does want to have a "relationship" with him, she is going to have to accept it for what it is, otherwise she is setting herself up for disappointment over and over again. I think that when Jeanne says she is chasing an elusive dream she's right, and the chances that she will catch this dream are slim to none because the dream is not about just having a relationship with him, but having the relationship she has always dreamed of. At this point, she should assume that what she sees in this man is what she gets and if that is better than having no relationship with him - fine - but I don't think she should expect him to change. He's too old and he's got "issues."

    Sometimes when we have children of our own we want family more. If he isn't a good dad, he's not likely to be a good grandfather, so maybe it's better to spare the kids this stuff.

    This entry inspired me and I wrote about my own experience with my mother on my blog today. It might be helpful