“The sense of someone missing is stronger than the sense of someone there.” – Paul Theroux, The Mosquito Coast
By accident, the memory of the movie suddenly dug up an urge to read the book. It took my shitty library two full weeks to locate a copy and whether it was the lack of copies available or just fate’s way of telling me I’m getting old, only a large print type was located for me. Large print – it’s like reading a poster in book form. Three times the normal weight, too.
Nonetheless, the book is brilliant. The story’s fascinating and the writing – is like savoring a goblet of Saintsbury Pinot Noir. And it may have been fate or pure coincidence, but it arrived the week of Father’s Day.
As I read the journey, memory and feelings of a thirteen-year old Charlie-boy towards his genius-but-mad-father, I saw a refracted reflection. Not of me and my dad – because as much as I’d like to recount that my father was a bit touched, it was more like O.C.D. that rivaled famous Jewish comedians. There wasn’t a hint of genius in my dad’s babbling whatsoever. Besides, his O.C.D. issues became rather comedic after he survived a stroke. Like watching a mute Gilbert Gottfried.
Yes – I’m awful.
Anyway, the refracted reflection I saw, was through the eyes of either of my sons – towards their dad. The words processed at face value: the relation, the misunderstanding, the sense of responsibility and the sense of abandonment. The embarrassment. The awe. Not that those feelings, even combined, are exclusive to them. But – I know – they’re dealing with double standards.
My husband’s a tough cookie. Kind of chewy – distasteful even. But he’s their dad. Their memory of him will go down regardless of how anyone else wants it to remain. It’s their rite of passage. How children eventually relate to the world. The School of Dad: all individualized courses.
In the end – it’s got nothing to do with mom. That’s why kids survive divorce and death and democrats.
By the way, my own dad taught me that.