Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My parents may well have been aliens

Completely predicable alien image used, one that has no real relation to the text that follows, typical.

My parents were aliens but not from Toronto

A wise young son of mine once said “there are some things you just don’t want to know about your parents”. He’s dead right, parents (the living ones) occupy a strange, mystical, terrifying and unrealistic place in the hearts and the childhood memories of their offspring. In many ways they should correspond to some Enid Blyton model, caring but remote, sending you of to school and then not really meddling in your world unless to provide food, money or rescue from immediate disaster. These parents don’t exist but if they did etc. etc. As children grow up the mask slips and they see their parents as they are, that can be good or not so good but it is inevitable, like getting to the bottom of a beer glass on a sunny afternoon.

It might sound crazy but I’ve only come to appreciate and (almost) understand my parents now that they are dead and gone. They occupy a new position in my life and memory, above the petty wars and issues, the mistakes and the disagreements. Now they look down like Obi Wan Kenobi or Anakin Skywalker, from some high and starry place, smiling and waving and not really interfering at all. This of course is part of an ongoing mid life crisis that I suffer from coupled with a perpetual state of bewilderment that produces golden sun flakes around the edges of things long past and completely blots out other less savoury, darker incidents.

My father and getting to know him has become a strange and occasional obsession for me. He died when I was 19 and we never really had a level, man to man relationship. The years from 16 to 19 were spent for me in a bit of a blue haze (1971 onwards) that made our disconnection and mutual frustration complete. Once he had died I felt a sense of obvious loss but I couldn’t put it into words or even acknowledge it. Now I understand that feeling is simply one of being robbed unfairly and immeasurable missed opportunity, the paradox being that even if he had lived on I might have never had the imagined relationship that now occupies my thoughts. In the competition between the real versus the unreal, the unreal wins most times. So now he’s a war hero, a loner, a traveller, a smoker and drinker, a troubled soul affected by personal loss and an inherited sense of duty that made him settle down and try his best to manage a small and insignificant family. When things failed to work out perhaps he didn’t understand and no doubt blamed himself and held onto some deep disappointments. Then a cruel illness came along and quickly killed him at roughly the same age I am at now. Nothing makes sense and neither God nor Karma or fate can explain the small hole that I observe in the universe that surrounds. Now I struggle to recall the sound of his voice, things he did or even remember quite what he looked like - tricks of light and mad shadows.

So enough of this tiresome reflection and sentimental circumnavigation, the next question is of course, as a parent and well rounded individual myself (apart from the occasional, minute flaw), what kind of alien am I and what would I wish to be remembered for?

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