At ten years old, I was an impetuous, petulant tomboy. I argued with my parents, didn’t clean my room, went gallivanting around the neighborhood on my rollerblades. My first encounter with in-line skates was at a cousin’s house in Riverside. She had the kind that snapped onto your shoes, and I was hooked. When I got my first pair of rollerblades, my father insisted that I also get kneepads, elbow pads, a helmet. Of course I complied, but after the first few rides wearing the gear, I felt dorky and went out skating without any of the equipment.
My dad was upset with me that day. When I got home, he set me down on the couch and lectured me about safety.
“When you fall and get really hurt, who’s going to take care of you?”
I was far, far beyond disrespectful with my reply: “MOM!”
The people closest to us, who mean the most to us, who are the most important people in our lives, are always the most capable of hitting us exactly where it will hurt most. The moment those careless words left my mouth, I knew that I had broken something between myself and my father. It must have shocked and damaged him deeply to hear his first born, his daughter, the child whom he had doted on and to whom he had devoted himself, the child who was the reason he worked graveyard shifts tirelessly, could say something so damaging.
Such wounds are difficult to heal. I was a fool in holding his subsequent distance from me against him. To hear such a thing from me must have been so wounding, so infuriating, that he had to initiate the distance as a defense mechanism.
This knowledge is haunting. It may take me the rest of my life, but I must endeavor to close that distance; to convey to him that I acknowledge his tacit caring, his genuine love.