Missing A Dad, Being A Dad

Saturday afternoon. The house is dead quiet, which is an atmosphere I hardly remember. The baby and his mother are away for the weekend. I am uneasy with silence now. Something seems missing.

Saturday afternoons have been melancholy times for this past year: my dad died exactly a year ago and Saturday afternoons make me think of him, because of the opera broadcast from the Met on Radio 2. He was a quietly passionate opera lover, and I know he would have it playing  every Saturday. He would often phone me wherever I was living and and I could hear it on in the background. And I would have it on too and I would say oh, are you listening to Manon? And that would give him the opportunity to tell me about a performance he had heard of it in London or Paris. It was a stress-free conversation. And I still must have it playing all afternoon, although it is sad now (and it often irritates my lover). Today it’s Berlioz, Beatrice et Benedict, and he was particularly fond of French opera.

It’s funny: it’s in the moments of most missing my dad that I am aware of my son’s absence and want him here (screaming or not screaming). I guess I’m not the first guy to discover this way of substituting for what is lost: children are genetic replacements. And I know my dad would have been so deeply happy to know him. I am irrationally proud to have continued his influence in this way.

I had a nostalgic dream last night: I was in the house of my childhood – a house I haven’t been in for 20 years. And my mother and my father were both there, as younger parents (although I was me, now). My dad was in the kitchen talking to some of his graduate students. I walked up the stairs – it felt totally natural to be there – and in my sister’s bedroom was my lover, my actual partner now, nursing our son on the bed. That too did not seem out of place. It was a happy dream, in which what I have now overlapped with what I have lost.

Image courtesy of dreambirdz on Flickr.

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