Sunday is Father’s Day. Rather than marking it with declarations about why our fathers are the greatest, or how-to guides on buying Dad the best ties or tools, Yahoo News solicited first-person anecdotes about the contentious or disagreeable moments we’ve had with our fathers. Here’s one reader’s story.
FIRST PERSON | My father, Erik, and I have always had a hard time communicating. That is mainly due to the fact that he is a very quiet person, and he’s very uncomfortable sharing or showing emotion. He is still a fantastic father, but it has taken me a long time to “get” him.
My earliest memory of not understanding my dad was from the late ’70s, when I was 5 years old and he was 26. The reason I remember the memory so clearly is that it was one of the most frightening things that ever happened to me. It was terrifying and horrible at the time, but has since become a hilarious experience to share with friends and other family members.
It all started when my dad was snaking my grandmother’s toilet. He never took safety very seriously — especially back then — and didn’t realize he was standing in a puddle of water. I was watching, quietly and intently.
Without warning, a sudden jolt of electricity sent him flying past me, through the bathroom door, and forcefully against the hallway wall. He slid down until only his head was propped up against the wall. He appeared to be dead.
I began screaming at the top of my lungs, “Daddy’s dead! Daddy’s dead! Daddy’s dead!” until my mother and grandmother ran into the hallway. We all stared at him with our mouths open for a while until my mother finally said, “My God, he’s actually dead.”
A few seconds later, my dad woke up and looked up at us. He was uncomfortable, knowing that he had made a truly stupid mistake that almost got him killed. What I didn’t understand at the time was that my father laughs when he’s uncomfortable or nervous.
When he started laughing, I got upset: “Don’t laugh! We thought you were dead!” Of course, that made him laugh even more. This time, I insisted, “You’re my daddy, and I thought you were dead! I love you and I was scared, and now you’re laughing! Stop it! Stop it now!” When he didn’t stop, I screamed at the top of my lungs, “I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!” and ran into the other room.
I was furious at the time, but I just didn’t understand what was going on. It took me many years of learning empathy and discussing my father’s sometimes inexplicable behavior with my mother — who is still married to him, but living in a different part of the house from him for her own sanity — to finally gain a good understanding of my dad.
In fact, I believe I now understand him even better than my mother does. That in no way means that there is complete peace between us, but at least now I know how to deal with him in a way that doesn’t drive me insane.