It has been three months since I have cranked out a blog entry. I have made a few attempts at a post, but I have been suffering from severe writer’s block. Part of the dry spell has been to an amazing year in business. For about eighteen years, I have been running my business as a “Jack of all trades, Master of none.” I have been in business for twenty years this year. The older Sid would advise the younger Sid to limit your business to what you love doing, and turn down everything else. The down side to this is that since my heart pumps Freon, the peak heat of summer is blinding in intensity for an Air-conditioning man. My creativity has been kind of cooked all summer long.
Perhaps my dry spell has been due to a lack of inspiration as well. I made a few attempts to write some blogs describing mentors in my life. In my list of people I respect and try to emulate my Dad is right there in the center. For me Dad is an enigma. To check out the word enigma I did a quick search and came up with this from Dictionary.com.
noun, plural e•nig•mas; Chiefly Archaic
a person of puzzling or contradictory character: To me he has always been an enigma, one minute completely insensitive, the next moved to tears.
Definition two definitely describes my feelings toward Dad. I can only describe the emotions he evokes as full volume on all channels. I think I have subconsciously avoided dipping my ladle into the emotional stew I feel toward my dad because I kind of know what is in the pot. My mom was an angel. I could easily write about her because I know that there is nothing unpleasant in the stew pot. I also think it would be easy to write about Hitler, Caligula, or Queen Jezebel, because they were people with no redeeming virtues. And then I come to Dad, my enigma.
I have found writing this blog to be very cathartic for me on all levels, other than the fact that it has made me want to go back to Freshman English so I don’t sound like an absolute moron. There is something very judicial about binding an emotion up and putting it down in hard copy. It is also scary to think you have chosen a format that displays your dirty laundry to anyone with an ISP and a mouse.
My problem with dad is that I could write several blogs that extol his virtues, and it would be an accurate picture of an amazing man. In reality his virtues would far outweigh his vices. I could also cherry pick through his bad moments and you would have a horrible image of him that was accurate, but represents a small part of his life. I think it is going to take several entries to box up my thoughts toward Dad. Much of my thoughts will never be up for public consumption. One problem I face as I wade through this is that I know that there are many others who had it so much worse. Some men are just pure evil. I hear stories of people who grew up with absolute sadists, and I feel like such a lightweight. Dad wasn’t all that bad. It is very common for me to point out one of my sticking points to my dad with him, and he refers to something worse with his dad. Somehow the fact that others had it much worse doesn’t make my problems seem any less real.
I just got back from a really bad visit with Dad. Dad is eighty-three years old and lives in a 28,000 square foot school building. For his age he thinks pretty well, and gets around alright. The building he lives in is a huge albatross that has slowly sucked down many of his resources. I view the thing as such a sucking liability that it may implode into a singularity. If you ever find yourself flying at near light speed toward Louisiana, you will know I was right. Dad has signs of on setting dementia that will probably be full blown Alzheimer’s in a few years.
Both my grandmothers had dementia in their end game. For Grandma Hagen it just exacerbated her quirks, and made her extremely dependent and clingy. Grandma Gladdish did a complete 180 degree turn from her well composed self. My sweet church librarian grandmother would suddenly weave a tapestry of profanity that would make a drunken sailor bow his head and give up cussing in shame of his ineptness. In either case, I could never tell if they were just totally out of their mind, or if the mask had finally come off. My love for all my family is great enough to believe mainly the best out of them. I kind of cringe at the thought that one day my mask may fall off. I think most of us are scared to delve into the darkness of our own depravity.
My conundrum with Dad is that while he’s showing some clear signs of dementia. I see it as the dad I grew up with, just a little worse. I think I should be responding with compassion, and sympathy. Instead I find rage, at what is a lifelong pattern of bad decision making. Dad knows how to push people’s buttons. When he is pushing mine, I really want to just shut him off.
And yet………I know it just isn’t right to shut him out in his hour of need. Reality is that in my worst moment, I was blessed to be the son of Richard Hagen. As I have time and the liberty to write, I would like to introduce you to my father. An enigma to me, and a man worthy of respect.