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MY FATHER WANTED TO WRITE
I understand my father better now than I did when I was young. I realize he was furious and defeated because he had lost his way. I sympathize now, because I realize how hard you have to fight not to lose your way. The world quite happily sucks you down all the paths that destroy your soul. That’s what happened to my father, who was a great success in the world’s terms but who was always angry, always the critic, especially with his children.
Well, that’s not quite true. I remember times he was protective, forgiving even, like when I wrecked his car, or got a speeding ticket, or had a stupid affair. He bailed my alcoholic brother out of jail almost on a weekly basis. He stayed faithful to my mother over sixty years. He worked hard and helped a lot of people with his money and connections.
But he never did the thing he wanted to do in life, write stories. He was condemned to regaling unwilling audiences every chance he got. We stopped listening when we were little. I developed an uncanny sense of how to never be where he was. A frustrated writer is a trial to live with.
If he was awake, he was talking, like everyone else in his family. There wasn’t a single introvert among them, although I admit I never met the ones who died early.
But here on Father’s Day, I realize how much my father suffered, how much his dreams were crushed. The great difference between the naive, romantic young man who fell head over heels for a beautiful young artist and had six children in the midst of the Great Depression — conjuring inspired fantasies of how they would write and paint themselves into a beautiful future — and the old man who said “I’ve had a good run at it. I’m ready to go now” is striking. This was a man who knew what it was to fail, what it felt like to have starving children at home, and he wanted nothing to do with that life.
The coup de grace was a wife who didn’t believe he could write, who just wanted him to follow through on his promise that if she married him, she could still paint.
I have a lot of sympathy for all the writers here on Medium, writers of all stripes, colors and abilities, who simply have to put words on the page in order to think clearly, in order to be who they truly are in their depths. May they find what they are looking for here, their voice, their tribe, their meaning in life. This is a good place to find out what you have to say and who is interested in it.
We live in a world where up to now only the favored few may speak, but that may be changing.