Queer Femmes Respond – Remembering My Father

My father died a year ago today while I was in the middle of treatment for breast cancer. I’m remembering him now in the middle of a world-wide pandemic. He would have been so interested in what’s going on now! He was always impressed by the extremes people will go to – extreme sports, extreme beliefs — and was himself what he called “a health nut,” and driven in so many ways. Until he became too confused because of Alzheimer’s, he ran every day, even if it was more like a shuffle as he approached the age of 80. He once wrote an entire book in 7 days, a chapter a day. His very last book, he wrote non-stop, night and day, getting chilblains in his feet.

Once when I was visiting my folks, I was startled when I turned on their car and Rush Limbaugh’s invective blared out of the radio – my dad liked to keep an eye on extremists. Trump would have fascinated him. And as someone who wrote a science fiction novel in the 70s in response to overpopulation titled Reduction, he would also have been fascinated by COVID. What will happen next? He would have wanted to know! He was unfailingly curious.

He was also a very loyal friend, and an eclectic but loving parent. I never doubted his love for me, for which I am so grateful.

My dad’s last years weren’t at all what he expected. He didn’t expect to lose access to certain parts of his giant brain, the parts he relied on his entire life up until then. He didn’t expect to die without his family gathered around him at the very end.

As I let myself cry today, just whenever the tears come (they are here as I write), I know this is how I’m responding to the pandemic, to the march of time, to life. “Now he can be with you as his complete self,” my mother-in-law told me when my father died, and that is true. I can remember him as he was when I was small and we went up the block to the library, me on my tricycle. When I was a teenager and he would kindly look up and make time and room for me when I invaded his study, desperate to talk about how fucked up everything was. As a young adult when, again, he would patiently listen to everything I was discovering in therapy, apologizing for past mistakes, agreeing, giving me space to learn and grow. As an adult when we worked together on editing projects and read and critiqued each other’s writing. And as a parent when he went on adventures with my kids and supported me through an incredibly stressful divorce. I was just getting to know and accept him as he was at the end of his life when his life was over.

Even though I still feel guilty for not being there with my father when he died, I know he forgives me. I know he knows I love him.

My response today is to forgive myself for not being able to fix everything, certainly not what’s going on in the world, certainly not what happened in the past. My response today is to remember the things I’m grateful for. I had – have – a great father. Imperfect and human, but wonderful and vibrant and full of the joy of life.

May we all respond with joy and love and forgiveness today.

Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. I want to feature you! Write to me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com and let me shine a spotlight on your beautiful, unique, femme story! If you’ve written a femme story or poem or song, oh, please let me post it!

 New Femme Friday feature starting spring 2020: Queer Femmes Respond. Are you reading more poetry? Are you navigating various technologies in order to see your folx and not be so isolated? Are you still going out to work? Are you able to get out for walks? Who’s home with you? We queer femmes are meeting these unsettling times with queer femme panache, and I want to hear about it! Along the lines of the Corona Letters over at the Sewanee Review, please send in what you’re doing, how you’re staying centered and sane! Write me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com with questions or ideas or a full-on post (with bio, if possible)!

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”) As I recover from treatment for breast cancer, however, I’m just going to post whenever I can manage.

Published in: on September 18, 2020 at 9:13 AM  Leave a Comment  

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