Was he a girl?

This picture is the only one I have of my dad as a child. I once had more but they became water damaged and I had to dispose of them. My dad is the one on the left. With the blonde curls. He kinda looks like a girl.

My Amma (Icelandic for grandma) really wanted a girl. She had my dad and my Uncle. Did she try to hide my dad’s masculinity for the formative years of his life? Or at least some twisted boy-girl version?

The only children my Amma bore were her two sons. And she so desperately wanted a daughter. Ironically my Uncle had two daughters. My dad had me. And my brother.

I have a couple of stories about my Amma from my uncle. My Aunt was not a fan of her mother-in-law. My mom has different stories and me, well I was her favorite so my glasses are rose colored.

Every time I have a thought regarding this character I am building I write it down. Thus far I have only had the two but I am beginning to view my dad differently. Or rather the fictional version I am building of him.

I must not paint my Amma as an evil villianess. I can only speculate as to what happened in her earlier life. We have no real on her.

My Afi (Icelandic for grandpa) is but a shadow to me. He passed away 1 month and 6 days before I was born. Came home drunk and fell down the basement stairs. Broke his back. Died of pneumonia.

My Amma and Afi shaped my dad.

Were one to look at my Uncle, respectable, looked after his family, never abandoning them to fate, you would never guess the family connection.

My dad? He is not an enigma. Not when I take my own reality of him, my mom’s and my brother’s and meld them.

He was a drunk. He left his family to fend for themselves. Never did he think how his actions affected his children. His wife.

Even as I worked to lower my expectations of him I was continually disappointed. The once sympathetic character I saw is now evolving into one you would most likely disdain.

This challenge I have set for myself is intriguing. I originally thought this was going to be a tale of a father who abandoned his children. Who chose alcohol to be his companion.

And with the turn of a phrase I suddenly found sympathy. Today as I wrote I may have had a small pain in my heart because I do believe my Amma may have treated my dad as a girl for the first while. And she babied him.

The great thing about this….I get to make it all up. But at the same time I am going to pluck my mind, my mom’s and my brother’s for memories and stories. For I realize that I need a clearer picture of the man who was my dad.

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My dad as a character

My dad was an awful father. I have no love for him. I do not visit his graveside and lament for lost relationships. Most of the time he is barely a blip on my subconscious. 

I imagine that as a younger man he had something to sell.  My mom is a smart woman so she must have seen something in him to have married him and had two adoring and wonderful children.

Once mom chided me for my disgust and dislike of my dad. Feelings which I have harbored within since I was a teenager. She told me that before the age of five my dad and me had been inseparable. I had adored him.

As a child, parents seem infallible. They are godlike and can do no wrong. Until they do. Until a child’s world begins to expand and they are able to assess their situation in relation to others.

I loved my dad until I was a teenager. I attempted to rebuild a relationship with him as an adult. I wanted his approval. Just once I wanted him to see me. Just once I wanted to have a dad.

I fluctuated for a long time with a love-hate relationship with my dad. I would have benefited from Al-Anon that is for sure. I may have been able to let go of the unrealistic hope that he would finally put the bottle down and become a dad.

For an alcoholic he was. My dad loved his rye. An affinity he passed onto both of his children. This is a man who would start the day off with a glass of rye because he could not find the gumption to face his day without it.

Aha!

Do you see what happened there? Suddenly my dad is no longer this disgusting pathetic excuse of a drunken man. There is a glimmer of sympathy possibly shining through.

This revelation hit me as I am driving into the city with a friend. I am writing not driving. My dad would make a great character, everything written above a preface to a back story, to his story.

I began to wonder; how do I write my dad into a sympathetic character when I myself feel so much disdain? And I am going to take a chance. I am going to fictionalize my dad and see where his story takes him. And I hope some of you will come along for the ride.