Monday, June 16, 2014

Double Dad Day

I got to spend Father's Day with both my husband and my dad this year.  I don't know if that's ever happened before.  My dad's been staying with us for the past couple of weeks while my mom has been on a trip.  He worries that he's a burden since he needs help getting around and we have to keep track of his medication, etc., but he's not a burden; he's my dad.

I feel bad that I haven't been able to get him out to a bookstore yet like he wanted, but the only day I had free from work the weather made it too complicated.  (Dealing with a walker and an umbrella while trying to cope with parking on the East Side was more than I felt I could handle.)  Other than that it's been a good visit with lots of Scrabble playing.

The highlight for me was having both Ian and dad at my concert on Sunday.  I play so many concerts I know my dad would enjoy that he can't be here for, and from my end there's nothing like having someone you love in the audience.  This weekend the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra had a Father's Day concert in a beautiful church up near the university.  The building had real Tiffany stained glass windows and the acoustics were amazing--no need for mics which was great.

The first half of the concert was our artistic director, Rene Izquierdo, on solo guitar, which is always wonderful, and the second half was the orchestra.  We did a nice assortment of tunes, from Classical pieces to Irish songs to Tin Pan Alley standbys....  It wasn't perfect, but parts of it were better than we've ever sounded, and I was so happy my dad could be there.

When I went to meet him at the end of our performance he told me he was so proud, and he got a little weepy, which meant it took a lot to keep myself from getting weepy.  It was about as good a Father's Day moment as one could ask for.

But what I think of as an important Father's Day moment for Ian actually happened a couple of months ago.

We struggled for a while with Ian and Quinn connecting after the deployments.  Ian was gone for the first eight months of Quinn's life, and it was hard convincing a baby who was used to having me all the time that this man he didn't know was an acceptable substitute.  Then just as Quinn was getting used to his dad, Ian was deployed again.  The adjustment to having Ian home the second time was much harder.  Quinn was cold to his dad, and you can't force love.  Ian was incredibly kind and patient with his son.  It broke my heart to watch Ian being rejected time and time again by this little person he loved so dearly.

Over time memories of the deployments have faded.  Aden still remembers them, but Mona only vaguely, and Quinn not at all.  For a long time Quinn's resentment of his father's reintegrated presence seemed formed purely out of habit.  As Ian's consistent patience and love became a stable factor in our home I think it became harder and harder for Quinn to justify his emotional distance.  It was out of step with his sisters and not logical.  (And Quinn is nothing if not logical.)  It took longer than I would have liked for him to start uttering the phrase, "I love you, dad" but it did happen.  And now it's assumed.

In New York over Spring Break we visited a hands-on art space for kids and Quinn made me this:
Quinn makes me hearts and offers me hugs and love all the time.  It's an element of my life I can almost take for granted

But then Quinn also made this:
This simple creation of yarn and glue made me so happy I can't even express it properly.  This wasn't some school assignment, or something suggested by anyone around him.  It was his own idea, and it captures the welcome shift that we've observed over the past couple of years.  Quinn loves his dad and can say it now.  That's a big deal.  I think between his not having any recollection as to why he wouldn't love his dad, and being faced every day with reasons why he should, he finally let go of his old ways and left himself open for something better. 

And love is definitely something better.


  1. These are the things I worry about with deployment. It's constantly on my mind since I live where I do, surrounded by all branches of the military. In fact, this was one of the driving factors for B not reenlisting--he didn't want to deploy and be away from his girls. We managed to avoid it during his first enlistment, but knew there was no way we would with the second. So, he got out.

    This made me teary while reading, and I'm still a touch verklempt. How beautiful that Quinn's love for Ian grew from Ian's steadfast patience and unwavering love for him.

    1. It's so hard, and difficult to explain to people who haven't been through it or connected to someone who has. I wanted very much to tell Ian to leave the Army, but in the end I didn't want him resenting me for making decisions for him. He had to choose for himself, and for him the right thing was to go to Iraq. I can not get it and love him anyway.

      Hey, check out this link a friend put up this morning of our performance in the church. Isn't it a beautiful space? (Plus we sound pretty good!)

    2. Brien determined it was what was best for all of us--there is NO WAY I would have made that decision for him.

      The concert--GLORIOUS! The space is spectacularly beautiful and the lovely. :happy sigh:

  2. What a sweet post! Totally got me a bit teary thinking of the situation both of them were in and how patient Ian was...both such special guys. Also glad you got to spend time with your dad and he got to see you play. Sounds like a great day all around.

    1. My grandma told me when her husband came back from the war and met his son for the first time, almost two-year-old little Joe screamed and would have nothing to do with him. But in the end it would be hard to find someone who loved his father more than my Uncle Joe, so I had hope that Quinn wouldn't be able to resist his dad forever. I think another deployment at this point (God forbid) would be hard in different ways, but not as damaging in terms of that early bonding. It was painful to watch. I don't know how Ian handled it so well. I would not have been as good about it I don't think.