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©Katherine Dunn.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

When those we love return

In which an old goat, and my father return to me out of thread and cloth.

I sat down recently to work on a new creature. I had it in my mind to make a llama doll in honor of Aldo. I worked for a couple of hours and it became very clear that Aldo was not with me that day, but someone else was. It was so good to see Old Man Guinnias again. Just like I imagine him at times, out for a morning walk in the cool air.

I also recognized that my father was with him too. Hence, he is attired in fine fabrics including a hodgepodge scarf made of fine linens-all from my parent's collection. Those yellow linen napkins were ones we used at many dinner celebrations since I was very young. I made a quilt out of some for my home, but now am using them as I feel the urge in other items.

I felt very calm working on my doll, I always do. And the creature that presented itself to me was the creature I needed to see. Perhaps my father too was saying,

"Hey, what about me, I'm here too, don't forget me."

This is something my father might think, whereas my mother would not. My father never really understood how much I loved him, how much I wanted him to be happy in his post retirement, and how much I admired his talent as an artist, draftsman, engineer and architect. I remember sitting on the couch with him, months before he would die, and we were talking about drawing. I told him he was such a good draftsman and could draw anything [which he could].

"Really, you think that?" he asked.

What in the world had I not said enough that he would still, at age eighty three, think I didn't believe that. i know I'd said it over and over. Perhaps he wasn't listening. Or, perhaps he was just as unsure of his abilities as I am sometimes. We had a good relationship, I'm so grateful for that. We had our complications like any father-daughter, but we had much in common which can sometimes conflict with peace.

The older I get, the more I understand the man. I talk to him all the time, but in a very simple way.

I'll be struggling with some of my own insecurities that might bring out a reaction in myself that I don't like, and I think of him and something he might have done or words he might have chosen under stress that were hurtful, and I just quietly say to him,

"I understand."

A friend once said that everyone is damaged, but some people are more damaged than others.

I thought that was a really powerful way to look at others, and ourselves. I am blessed to have had a good childhood, not with perfect parents, but ones who never scared me, belittled me or bullied me. I liked them. I got to have them around in my adult years too and that can add a lot of understanding to the child-parent dynamic. You think you have it all together at thirty? Get to forty. You think you really added some wisdom and grounding in your forties? Travel on into the fifties. My parents shared many lessons, thoughts, fears and stories as they grew into their eighties. I know for a fact, if I make it to eighty, I will think of them at times as I'm putting one foot in front of the other, and say,

"I understand."