A Profound Relationship

God, I miss being able to call my Dad. Ten times a day I grab the phone and then realize there’s nobody to call.

We had a very close relationship. Talked daily, and I don’t mean superficial stuff of the “hi, how are you?” variety. We talked about politics, literature, my work, his work, my friends, his complete lack of desire to have friends.

My father believed that the most important thing in life by far was having children and then creating and maintaining a profound relationship with them. He was very successful at this in a way that is quite rare. We’ve lived in different countries for 19 years but we were always intensely in touch.

17 thoughts on “A Profound Relationship

  1. That is an amazing way to think about children. I wish there were more people who had such a considered view. My life, my husband’s, the lives of so many people would be radically different if our fathers (or mothers) had thought that way, or even if we had met people who thought that way when we were younger. One of my friends had a father who seemed to think along those lines; his children and grandchildren and many friends of the family all adored him. I am an English professor partly because of him. Such people are such a loss to the world.

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    1. When I became a Hispanist, my father started reading Hispanic literature and gained a deep understanding of it so that we would be able to talk about it. When I became a literary critic, he became a writer. He didn’t want a relationship based on obligation but based on interest.

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  2. What a big loss Clarissa. But I imagine you are thankful for the time you were able to spend with him and I’m sure you’re doing an amazing job passing this on to your daughter.

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    1. My sister and I also use this strategy to remain relevant to each other. We live in different countries but we are extremely close. I read the business books she reads. She went back to graduate school and wants to publish academically.

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  3. It’s so wonderful you had that with your father, and you still have it with your sister. Hopefully you will be able to have it with Klara, too. It is indeed quite rare. No one around me IRL is interested in the things I am, and from my (online) writer friends I find it’s like that for them, too — their families are somewhere between ignoring their artistic pursuits and being vaguely supportive. I’d kill to have someone IRL who would be so interested in any of my pursuits so as to want to ever discuss them in depth. Even the tiny handful of people who know I write creatively seemed more titillated by learning a secret than by reading let alone discussing any story of mine (honestly, I totally expected it, but it still sucked). I try to keep up with my kids interests and what is important to them, and this post motivates me to try harder. So sorry for the loss of your dad, but what a wonderful gift he gave you, and one that you can share with Klara! ❤

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  4. I’m so sorry for your loss. Your father sounds like an amazing person. What a terrific life goal to have!

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    1. This relationship with my father has had an enormous impact on how I see myself in the world and on my relationships with men. I always feel extremely beautiful. And I’ve never encountered a man who doesn’t treat me like an extremely beautiful, very precious person. I’m probably not even that beautiful. And not all that brilliant. But I feel like I am. It’s a really big thing always to feel like this. I wish more people could experience it.

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        1. One thing I really want to give to Klara is this feeling of comfort in the world. It’s infrequent for women to have it. I know beautiful, thin, very fit women who eat their hearts out, feeling ugly, fat, and imperfect. A lifetime of this. It shouldn’t be like that. Imagine all the energy that this eats up.

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        1. I’m so sorry. This is horrible. Horrible. I do know what it’s like because I have a mother who is like your father. She’s a very weird person. For instance, she has completely written me and my sister out of the story of our father’s life. To hear her speak about him, you’d think the man was childless. She tells these stories about when he was in the hospital in early May: “And then the doctor came in, put his hand on my shoulder and told me XYZ.” But the person who did that was me. The doctor couldn’t have possibly told her anything because she doesn’t speak English or French. She deleted me from the story of my own father’s death. It’s the weirdest thing.

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        2. I don’t miss my parents at all; they are both alive, but I haven’t seen them in a decade, and currently have my mom blocked over phone and email. Their attention and affection was always conditional (expected perfect grades and high competitive achievements that they could boast to their friends about, otherwise I was irrelevant). I know I am no ogre, probably objectively average looking (at least when I was young), but I’ve always felt my academic and athletic achievements were the only worthwhile things about me, and that I was otherwise fat and ugly with short legs and Hobbit feet and anyway way too needy (thanks Mom for that one), which you can imagine did a number on me when it came to my romantic relationships with men. Parents can be such shit, seriously. (And sorry for the TMI.)

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          1. I hear you. As a teenager I got into a series of disastrous relationships with abusive guys. Looking back on it now, I’m flabbergasted at what I put up with back then. None of it would have happened if I hadn’t been conditioned to tolerate abuse, even to believe that’s how men act when they (supposedly) love you.

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      1. That’s fantastic. My dad didn’t take it to quite the same level, but I feel similar about him. My relationship with my mom is pretty fraught (I negotiate it better as I get older, but it’s never been great). But Dad was always the parent who thought we were brilliant, talented, capable –and he’s proud of us. I think those assessments were a mite unrealistic, but it’s nice to have someone who’s always in your cheering section, you know?

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          1. This is one respect where I think most modern folks are missing out in an awful way. Sometimes parents fall down on the job. But when you grow up where your extended family is… well, I had bucketloads of aunties: my grandmother had seven sisters. Two of them lived within bicycle distance when I was a kid, and a third lived almost next door to my school. They were old, happy to be visited, adored me, had fascinating lives to talk about and usually cookies, and I spent a lot of time with them.

            Throw in other assorted relatives and friends-of-the-family and I had a crowd 🙂 For an introvert, I was pretty good at rounding up surrogate parents. It was probably the big limpid blue eyes…

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