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I don't think I've kept you all up-to-date with the most recent developments in my family, especially with my father and me, from whom, as you may know, I was estranged (his choice) for more than 30 years.
I think the end, or better, the beginning came after Kathy Megan's article in the Hartford Courant (findable on this website, if you click under my name in the list of blogs and follow links to "Twin Realities...") when he found that she did not blacken his name as he'd expected, but rather let him tell his side of the story. That was one. But another beginning was his taking a friend's son, who has SZ, under his wing, and learning about it first-hand. I think both this young man, who himself does not get along well with his own father, and *my* father, benefited from this rather odd relationship: Yale professor and writer and lecturer and an unemployed schizophrenic. In any event, it helped him learn a little about what might be going on in my life and why I can't work or function exactly as do so many people he knows. As he always expected me to, in short.
So he was coming around, as they say, but hadn't yet figured out how to break through the last remaining wall of silence, that is until I was hospitalized at St Raphael's in New Haven this winter, a very short distance from where he lives. One day, I was sitting in the single room they'd given me for being too disruptive for a roommate (which was helpful to me, too) when in walks, of all people, my father, who sits down and starts talking to me as if nothing had even been between us all these years.
I was astounded, and I admit that afterwards I misinterpreted some of his comments in a negative way that I was told he did not intend (I was still ill at the time, which may explain this). But the important thing is that he kept coming, once visiting 3 times in one week. After that first visit, I came to enjoy seeing him, and while part of me may have been angry with him, the much greater part was absolutely thrilled to have him back in my life. And any anger I felt very quickly dissipated under the sheer volume of his repeat calls.
This was a miracle I never anticipated, though I'd tried to reconcile often before this; I'd sent him letters, and subscriptions to magazines I thought he'd enjoy, and invitations to come up to Hartford for lunch etc etc. But nothing broke through the wall. Until that day he appeared, on his own, at St Raphael's hospital, taking what I consider the biggest risk of all, since he could have come accompanied by my mother or someone else, to alleviate the tension and his fears. But no, he had the courage to come to see his daughter, no matter what shape she was in, alone, and I admire him for that.
Ever since then, he has come to Wethersfield to visit me, making it up here for breakfast, several times, once every week or two in fact. He doesn't stay long, maybe an hour or an hour and a half, but that is partly for my sake since he knows I get exhausted easily and tend to overdo things.
What I realized from this was that 1) I love my father very much, and always have, but also that 2) he loves me, and always has, despite the anger and rancor and resentment he harbored for so long. I also think, as a plus, that he admires me -- though precisely why I cannot say, given that I've precious little to point to by way of accomplishments.
So that's my miracle, and I hope all who have been cut off from their families by this terrible illness will take hope in it, and that those who have built the walls, for any reason -- anger, disappointment, misunderstanding -- will see this as an object lesson in how to take them down and what it would be worth to all concerned if they did.
Thanks you all for caring and listening.
PamPosted by pamwagg at August 26, 2004 04:53 AM | TrackBack