Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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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."


Sherri B. said...

He has immense character! Your words about your father are so touching...I can feel the love.

Kerry O'Gorman said...

My father and I had a very difficult relationship for many years, butting heads (the goat theme!) and generally opposing each other. Then we went to Ireland together and that became our bond. We travelled well together for 3 weeks and discussed many of our hangups about each other. To this day that journey become a gift that keeps on giving...Love your doll. So poignant. Thankyou for such meaningful posts. All that you said about your father and your childhood mirrors mine. xo

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

Thanks, Sherri for stopping by!
Kerry- that is a wonderful story- I love it, you shuld write it all down. I went to Europe to study in the '80's and met up with my father who was then in his late 60's and the design director of a major architectural firm. We met up in Copenhagen, then went to Paris and Zurich. He wined and dined me with all his cronies, but showed me all his favorite spots- untill his death we talked about the 'best meal of my life' I have ever had to this day, in Zurich. When I would bring it up with guests, i could tell, he beamed inside. Maybe one thing like that is enough for anyone to hold onto. Write you stories!

pencilfox said...

love this old man goat.

someday i'll pull out needles and tattered cloth and some intuition and put together a doll or two.
i wish i had you with me, katherine, to guide me along the way....


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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~