My Pops and My Field of Guilt

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

No Liefeld today but with good reason. Please read on.

As many of you know, I’m currently working on a baseball comic (and it’s going to be so good - once we settle on an artist). Due to that fact, I’ve basically been watching nothing but baseball, talking about nothing but baseball and thinking about nothing but baseball. It’s not too much of a stretch for me; I love the crap out of baseball. But, last night, my digital cable box went nuts and as a result, I couldn’t watch my premium channels. That includes my MLB Season Pass, making me miss my first Mets game of the season. Instead of watching the Orioles game, I decided to rent Eight Men Out and Field of Dreams. I just finished Field of Dreams.

Now, every time I watch that movie it’s the same thing. I laugh at every ridiculous piece of dialog and throw my hands up in disbelief at the often ridiculous plot. And then, when I get to the end, I got that Kool-Aid smile on my face and I got tears in my eyes and my throat’s all itchy all because (SPOILERS!) Kevin Costner gets to play catch with his dead father.

So, I had my story written for today, I had this whole week planned out, its 12:30AM on a Tuesday (well, technically Wednesday) and I have work tomorrow. I still haven’t done part three of the Supreme edits and I feel the overwhelming urge to change what I had planned for today. So, I’m going to do just that, you get no Liefeld, you get no “down by the Charles River” story and instead, you get my dad’s story, because I’m that much of an emotional sap right now.

____________________

According to my mom, my dad started reading to me the day they found out they were pregnant. He was so jazzed to be a dad, and a good dad, that he couldn’t even wait until I was born. He would read to me every night and it’s a tradition that continued until I was able to read by myself. My relatives would always ask him why he needs to read to me, I don’t even understand what was being said, but that’s just the way he was. My father was a dad 24-7 right from the start.

Money was tight growing up for us. My father was a printer with no college education. He went to a printing trade school for high school, entered the Navy and became a printer on the ships. Once he left the Navy he married my mom. Two years later they had me. A couple of months after that he got laid off for the first time.

My father would work two jobs. He’d print full-time for some company out in Queens, stop off at another print shop on the way home and do the night shift. And the thing is, it wasn’t like we lived lavishly, that extra money we received didn’t benefit him and my mom too much, he really did it for me. I can honestly say I got almost anything I wanted. My father was working two jobs so I can have a Cobra Terrordrome as a kid. One night I said I wanted a M.A.S.K. Boulder Mountain Playset. This guy, after working two jobs, drove me out to the Toys-R-Us in Bay Ridge and got me the Boulder Mountain Playset. That’s the kind of guy he was.

I mean, we had a complete Encyclopedia Britannica set with the matching bookshelf because my dad thought it would help me in school. We must have been the only family in Red Hook with one of those. Every other kid’s parents would say, “The library has all the encyclopedias you need.”

Just thinking about it now, trips to Disney World, Virginia Beach – my parents never even had a honeymoon.

Like I said, money was tight, but growing up I hardly felt it. Most of my clothes were new, the food was always good, and I had everything a kid could want. And my dad never asked for anything in return. That was his style, he was the quite guy. I don’t think I’ve ever known anybody as unselfish as my dad.

And he was always there, too. For everything. Assemblies, graduations, football games, baseball games. He always tried to instill me with the things I needed to know. So, he worked his ass off and he got me all the stuff a kid could want and on top of that he was being the father every kid needs.

I remember going up to the roof with him, on the fourth of July. We’d turn on the radio and an orchestra would play and the fireworks were supposed to be matched to the music but I never saw the correlation. The whole time before the fireworks he’d be barbequing, making up burgers and steaks and sausage links from Esposito’s. The family would be there and everyone will be laughing and having a good time, the Mets’ game on a small TV, hooked up to an extension chord coming down from the second floor window. But when we got to the roof, to watch the fireworks, there was no grilling. No entertaining necessary. And it was always this perfect moment, every year, when I would sit with my dad and just watch the fireworks, separate from the rest of the family. Watch them explode over the Manhattan sky-line and decorate the skyscrapers with ample colors, the Stars and Stripes blaring from the cheap little portable radio from Radio Shack.

I remember my little Fisher Price record player. I was an E.T. nut and I used to play “Turn on your Heartlight” by Neil Diamond. My dad has a great singing voice and he’d lay down with me and sing it. Recently Robin bought me a working Fisher Price record player and the vinyl single for “Turn on your Heartlight”. It wasn’t the same.

I remember this one Christmas, when all I wanted was Star Wars figures. I got a bunch of other cool presents and one Star Wars figure. I was upset, obviously. And my father pointed out a string that was lying on the floor. I followed it to the sofa and pulled on it and from behind the sofa came every single Star Wars’ figure I needed. There were so many. And Santa Claus got credit and my dad was perfectly fine with that, as long as I was happy.

Looking back now, I wish I appreciated it more. Those moments and everything else the man did for me. But it’s all I knew, you know? But I did some stupid shit, sometimes. I got bratty. And not bratty as in begging for more and more and more. I just got stupid teen angsty, we all do at some point, I guess. But looking back at it, I had no right. I really didn’t, the guy was the best dad any kid could have.

We got into a big fight once, I was 16. It was a little while after Steven died; it fucked me up quite a bit. I don’t even know what the fight was over but I know I was threatening to run away and he was so enraged and he was pushing me out the door, telling me to do it. My mother was crying, getting between us.

I took a swing. I missed, thankfully, but I took a swing.

I went to my first therapist about a month later. First of four. I can’t even think about the swing without feeling so fucking bad. This guy, that did everything in his power, that sacrificed so much to get me what I wanted, get me through school, inspire me to get good grades, supported me through college and to this day will still do anything for me without a moments hesitation. And I swung at him. Over something so trivial that I can’t even remember what it was today.

Breaks my fucking heart. It broke his heart, had to of. He had to be thinking, once we calmed down, “What the fuck did I do to deserve that?” Nothing, was the correct answer. But I’m sure he didn’t think that, no-one does. When someone you care for more than anyone else turns on you like that, there’s never an easy answer. Just look at yesterday’s story.

And even now, I want to do so much for him, but I’m just not at that place yet. And even that’s a half-truth; I’m still at that place where, when I have the opportunity to do something, I do it for myself. I have my moments, I know that. I give back what I can when I can and when they need it I don’t even hesitate. I try to help with Elizabeth as much as I can, give her some of the stuff my dad gave me in order to help him out. But no matter what I do, I still don’t feel like it’s enough. People carry around guilt for their entire life. And it’s the most retarded, counterproductive emotion possible and no matter what, it’s impossible to shake.

No matter how hard I try I will never forget that fight. The more I look back on my life and see how good I had it, the more it hurts. I know he’s probably gotten over it. I know that right now the two of us are probably closer than we’ve ever been. And despite all of that, if I so much as think about that fight, I go to pieces.

Nothing will ever take that away. But I’m going to keep trying.

And that’s my guilt, that’s one of the things I carry around. There’s more. Some of them I can talk about, some of them I’ll never share with anyone. This was one I thought I could never share. But fucking Kevin Costner had to go and play catch with his dead father. I don’t even like Kevin Costner.

And you think this is weighted down and not the usual light snack you like from my site to start your day, wait until I write about my mom. 1:30 AM. I could go on, but it’s time for bed. As far as I know, what I just wrote is probably an incoherent mess.

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