by Chris de Serres
I have always found it difficult to connect with other men in a meaningful way. I understand it stems back to my relationship with my father. My mother used to tell me how happy I made my father when I was a toddler. How much joy I brought him. How he used to play games and spend time with me. At some point something changed because I don’t know that person. I always knew him as being distant and unknowable. He was limited in capacity. I could ask my mother anything. To read me a book. She would wake up late at night to cuddle with me after a bad dream. She fed me. Shopped for clothes with me. Took me to doctor’s appointments. She was everywhere.
My father was like some distant star. Barely there. He worked and provided the financial needs. He came home from work. He was the first person I met who was capable of being there, while not being there. I wanted to know him. I can see this very well with my own daughter. Children are always searching for opportunities to know you. I searched and searched, but rarely found him.
He would huddle deep into his recliner like it was a cave. The one thing which brought out life in him was the television. He loved the evening news and his laugh would tear into the house like a lightning bolt when watching his sitcoms. The television was where he lived. So it was where I went to try to know him.
I would spend hours in front of the television. Watching what jokes made him laugh. Taking note of the shows he loved and coming to my own conclusions as to why. It was the one part of him that felt shared.
Any real moments we shared was talking over the noise of the television. He’s old now. In bad health. His body is shutting down. So I try to visit more. I want Ryan to know her grandfather, for his flaws and all.
We recently paid him a visit. He had the baseball game playing on the television. My wife and I tried to engage him in conversation, but it proved difficult competing with the excitement of the game combined with his declined hearing. He didn’t seem to notice. It was one of the few things that made him present, in the limited way in which he could be.