One of the weirdest results of growing up with families that don't operate by the normal rules- blinder and i share this, and know that we have it in common with a number of other slashdotters- is an uneasiness with emotions. Feeling that they're out of place, merely for not having had confirmation of much normal over the early years.
I've been heartened by a lot of conversations with people lately. It's normal to feel grief. It's normal to feel grief even if your father wasn't a part of your adult life- in fact, that adds to it, because i'm also sad that he wasn't and now can't be.
It's normal to be thunderstruck by the death of someone you loved very much as a child, even though you may have frozen over that part as much as possible as an adult.
It's normal to be sad when someone dies. Whether you were close or not, and closeness or distance as an adult in no way negates the closeness as a kid. In some ways, it only renders it sharper in relief.
I'll say it: i miss my dad.
I'm still here. I'm reading you all, i'm still having happinesses and sadnesses. This is a learning experience for me, as i fumble through what are ultimately very normal, healthy emotions (and so are actually rather refreshing, because at least there's something good at the heart of them. Not an anger, a bitterness, or an outrage, but just a good old-fashioned kid-loves-dad sentiment that i didn't know was still lurking back there. Regardless of whether he deserved it then or since, regardless of who he was and what he did or didn't do, the fact remains that he was my father, and at the time, i loved him very much, and still do because of it.)
I used to wear my hair in braids, from the time i was very little up till about junior high. I braided it myself. Remember, i've always had long hair until now. I love my short hair but even when i dream, i have long hair. So i used to have these braids, and i would loop them up and fasten them with those clever toggle-bands that are perfect for small hands to manage. My father thought it was strange and funny. His other daughter had no such inclinations, she was platinum blonde and had none of the compulsions i did. I would brush my hair carefully, put it in braids, and fasten them up. I did that every day for many years, i had to- it kept it from getting tangled. (There is a story to how it began, but that has no place here. We'll leave it that i had good reason to begin caring for my own hair early and was very fastidious about it.) He found it fascinating, like a little old woman, and would tell me i looked like a little heidi or something, with my funny looped up braids. Gods know how i got the idea to do it, it seemed like a good idea one day, i suppose.
I think of it now because my first thought on realising he wouldn't meet me was: He'll never see my haircut.
He'd be so surprised.
Everyone who knew me as a child is surprised, people have trouble reconciling the child with the comb and the clips, behaving like an eighty-year old, putting up her hair with her eyes closed, purely out of habit, with the ruffian-like pixie cut creature in the mirror now.
I confess i sometimes still reach for hairpins in the morning. It's a habit. I still feel a blank where i should be brushing my long hair at night. But it's still nicer to have short hair, and i like it. I think my father would have liked it, but he would have been surprised, after seeing how seriously i began.
I've gotten progressively lighter over the years in disposition. I began as such a serious little child, so responsible and sober. I had levity- i'd sing songs and laugh- but my disposition has gradually turned from the old-maidish little one i was, with my careful braids and my hairpins, to one of more outward gentleness, less fierce and more free. I like it better. I hope it continues. We are not always who we begin as, and my father certainly proved that.
I have my mother's looks. Specifically, i have my mother's father's mother's looks. I'm the image of Clouey, they tell me, with her brown hair and her diminutive stature. Did you know i'm the only one in my immediate family with dark hair? Really. My mother and most of her siblings were light-haired, my father's family is positively ashen. I'm a throwback. I have no idea what i inherited from my father's side of the family except perhaps his appreciation of rocks. He turned out to be a geologist; my initial thought on that was: Well, THAT certainly explains a lot.
His mother was stunning in her youth; now she's about 80. I haven't decided whether to contact them or not. I don't know whether they'd welcome it.
His mother always wanted me to cut my hair as a child, but i'm not counting on her remembering that now. Isn't it funny how the world goes around?