Last week during the Hurricane Matthew watch, I worried about my Dad and the group home where he lives since it’s near the Atlantic coast of Florida. I did not want to call and tie up the phone lines during the thick of it. Instead, I stayed out of the way, sent tons of good mojo and looked online at the local shelters. There was a designated high school nearby and I imagined my dad and the other mentally challenged seniors sitting on bleachers in a corner of the high school gym, waiting out the storm with other local folk…no power, no comforting, no idea how long they’d be holed-up. In this fantasy, I worried he’d be scared or worse yet, picked on. I can be defensive that way.
But worry is not love, and not in the least bit helpful.
The exact nature of my wrongs is a faulty sense of self. Sometimes I think my best is not good enough. But I have come to terms with not being my father’s guardian. I am his loving daughter. The 2000+ miles between he and I have served our relationship well. All that space for the other to have his life, his feelings, his experiences, and all that space for me to have my own has led to a healthy relationship where I can show up in person every few years.
The estranged relationship I had to my childhood was given much loving attention in the writing of WHAT YOU CARRY. By fictionalizing my account, I was able to own my part of it. Make peace with the past, and even draw doodles on it. Each character was liberally doused in my own likeness. Whatever came up for me came out in them. Like any novel, it is walking- talking neurosis, and acceptance for all.
The Florida Space Coast had plenty of damage from Matthew, but it was not as bad as it could have been, and certainly not Haiti-bad or The Bahamas-bad. My father’s group home was not taken to a shelter. They weathered the storm without water or power for several days, but when I spoke to him today, he sounded pretty darn peppy. I’ll be seeing him in December.