I am still here with Mom, who is doing well. And once again, I am living in my childhood home. Among memories.
The house is still filled with pictures and memorabilia of my father, who died way too young, back when I was just two years out of college. He was a big hulk of a man, conservative and often bull-headed, but with softer moments. He loved my mom. And he loved me, although he didn’t really know me.
When someone says “we weren’t really close,” it suggests distance and separation and even conflict, and that wasn’t the case with my father and me. But I was, I might say, of a music he didn’t understand. I think it’s sometimes true that a father sees his daughter as a curiosity, a cute object in childhood who somehow becomes strangely grown-up and sexually developed, and the transformation is sort of confusing to the man.
He was by any measure today homophobic, born of his own conservative bent and also the religious culture he conducted around us, Mom and me. This was not any outward judgment of my sexuality, for back then I didn’t yet know what I was. Then again, I’m sure I didn’t know what I was in part because my father was what he was. As I’ve written before, I was not so much “girl interrupted,” but “girl delayed.”
When I was in high school, my father developed arthritis and had a hip replacement. In recovery, he used a carved wooden stick as a cane, saying it was a shepherd’s staff with which he herded all his little lambs. I was no longer little, nor young as a lamb, and I was the only one in his flock, but it symbolized how he thought of me. In a time when I was trying to be independent, I resisted a bit and shook my head at him when he talked this way, but I also understood it to be his way of tenderness peeking out of his gruff exterior.
In my counseling with Jillian, my father’s influence on me has been terrain thoroughly covered.
We are always to some degree products of our clan and culture, and I am as well. But it seems my bisexuality is not directly influenced by my father, although, again, likely delayed by him in my self-acceptance. As to my submissive nature, the evidence is not so clear. My father was an authoritarian figure, for sure, strict in certain ways, and so you might draw some reasonable connections.
But I continue to believe that my sexual orientation encompasses both my bisexuality and my submissiveness, and that both are in-born. I was created this way. Yet perhaps the shape of my submissiveness, how I am submissive, is influenced by clan and culture, my father specifically, and has rendered my submissive needs to be a certain way.
His sudden death was, of course, an upside-down for Mom, and a sadness for me, though my grief would leak out over time, not immediately right then. Still, I remember, after the funeral, taking his old carved cane in my hands and tracing the ridges with my fingers, the dimensions of a man I never knew.