It hit me a few weeks ago when I was looking at the prayer cards from my father’s funeral.
When my father died, he stopped being a man. And he started being a historical figure.
It was a silly joke at first. Because the prayer cards had his birth and death dates on it. Like he was Copernicus or something.
My father, the historical figure. It was good for a much-needed laugh.
But as the weeks wound on, it kept coming up at the strangest moments, the fact that he’s basically a historical figure now. Because now that he’s gone, people talk about him so differently.
Obviously, most of what people say is nice — since you’re not supposed to speak ill of the dead, after all. But my mother in particular has been an incredibly good source of things I didn’t know about him. She knew him better than anyone else of course. And she’s been extra spooky because of grief — since he was her person, the center of her world. Even if they didn’t always get along. They mostly didn’t get along, actually. From things that have slipped out and I’ve heard, they stayed together because it was easier than being alone or trying to date new people, I think.
But even though their dynamic was a little funky to me — she was used to him being there. And she knew him very well. Some of what she says about him is touching. And a lot of it is really humorous… and probably not something I would expect a mother to tell her kid.
So That’s Where I Get It From
My personal favorite awkward and wacky moment so far has been when she spontaneously blurted out, “Your father was such a horndog!”
Apropos of nothing.
Outwardly, I laughed and changed the subject. Inwardly, I thought, So that’s where I get it from.
Because my mother is aggressively, vocally sex-negative. And I always wondered about that, how I had such a high sex drive with a mother who really genuinely seemed to find sex repulsive and a chore.
Sometimes when I talk about my mother being sex-negative, people insist she is probably just pretending. No. Seriously, she’s not a great liar. And these days in particular she has zero filter. She really doesn’t and didn’t like sex. Not watching it, not doing it, not the fact that anyone else did it. Nada. And she’s been open with me about her personal trauma, and she’s had no sexual trauma, so I think she’s just wired that way.
Anyway, it’s been interesting learning all the things I have in common with my father. Now that he’s a historical figure, I’m learning about him in an entirely new way.
I mostly just smile when I realize. Because if I told my mother that I’m the same way he was, in this way or in any others, she’d argue with me. In her mind, daughters always take after their mothers, and sons always take after their fathers.
And there’s nothing I could say — or that she could see about me or how I live my life — that would change that.
But the good news is that I don’t have to change it. And I can treasure all the things I have in common with my father, the historical figure.
I never did hold a flashlight for Copernicus while he fixed the furnace though.