I grew up in a strange little family, on a small little island, with a parental unit that has proven ‘Dysfunction’ is indeed, corporeal.
My parents are artists. I say artists because they are the archetypes of struggling, starving creative folk – the definition of artiste right?
My father is what I would call a jack-of-all-musical-trades. He grew up privileged. That saying about the silver spoon? Yeah, it goes hand in hand with his upbringing.
Born to a beautifully flawed yet unmatched couple, he was like the Polynesian Gerber baby – a perfectly adored prototype of a child.
Blue eyes, curly light hair, fair skin color. All the hallmarks of what beauty is to silly Samoans who continue to value that fair skinned look.
He was like a prize – a trophy for all to marvel over and covet. To say he developed a superiority complex is an understatement.
I have never known a man who thinks so highly of himself and his ability to do ANYTHING. This has been proven abundantly clear with his numerous forays in to crazy schemes and ever-changing business ventures. I don’t ever remember my father having a stable ‘job’. He was/is always on the go. His mind is like an overpopulated beehive, always buzzing, always moving, forever pollinating, always creating and never stopping.
Oddly enough (or maybe not), I find this to be a wonderful quality. His faith and belief in himself is an admirable and enviable trait that I wish I could tap, package and mainline.
Music is his true passion.
It’s what defines him.
He is a drummer. He has been playing since before I was born. I believe that was part of his charm re: courtship with my mother (It was a COURTSHIP, and I’ll go to my grave ignoring the fact that she may have found him to be a hot musician… *gag*).
Even now, in his 50s, he is still playing. I am always proud when I watch him play, and even though I am almost 30 and I have long dismissed any association of ‘coolness’ when it comes to my father – in those rare moments I find myself in awe of him.
He is undoubtedly a narcissist. The world revolves around him and his needs. He will bulldoze through anything in pursuit of what he wants and has definitely not spent the requisite amount of time with his children in order for us to be productive and well-rounded members of society (so says the manual.. we continue to disprove this theory).
Although we have all managed to inherit some of his qualities, I am happy to say that none of us are truly, really like him at all. This is not meant to sound cold, but just a fact. This world can handle only one Shane. Truly.
Growing up in Samoa, he was a tough disciplinarian. The word cruel often comes to mind. There would be no extreme beat-downs, but when he did dish out the punishment – his creativity really came in to play. Sometimes it was mental, sometimes emotional and of course physical. One time it included feet-kissing and bowing. He was a unique master that’s for sure. I won’t go in to this too much because, frankly, almost every Samoan has a story or twelve to tell of their mother and father laying down the law.
Some of you may be wondering how I can so casually divulge these things. Well, I’ve come to realise that I’m not going to hide shit anymore. Pride is a bitch, and I don’t want to be her slave anymore.
Besides, I may be ashamed of him at times, but I accept him and all his MANY MANY MANY flaws. He is one half of what made me, and to deny it would mean denying a part of my core being.
My father can be wonderful, and he can be ab.so.lute.ly terrible. At times I wonder how someone is capable of going through life completely oblivious to the pain he can cause.. other times I thank God for allowing me to learn from a man who has such an interesting and alternative mind.
One of my fondest memories of him include running off to the bookshelf to get the next Encyclopedia for him.
“Renate, go get daddy F.” Several months later, “Honey, go get daddy G.” You get the picture. I cannot say for sure whether he has finished an entire set (although if I asked him now, he would undoubtedly say “Yes of course I have”).
I believe I inherited my love of reading from trying to emulate my father’s voracious appetite for knowledge.
I always had my nose in a book, and my sister and I would spend hours poring over the Encyclopedias, medical texts and whatever else we could get our hands on. No one in our family was a doctor so I’m not really sure why we had so many medical textbooks – the section on STDs was a favourite. You’d think I’d be more cautious about unprotected sex, but I guess reading doesn’t automatically guarantee being smart.
A fast-talking salesman with an incredible insight in to the way the human mind operates. He still baffles me to this day with his perspective. At a certain point, a child will start to think they are smarter than the parent. I doubt I will ever get there.
I don’t always believe what he says, and more than once his ‘facts’ have turned out to be an extended director’s cut of the neighbourhood surrounding the truth – but with age I have come to accept most of what he says with a grain of salt and he has an uncanny ability to predict the dismal future. I kid you not. He can see what bad is to come of something, and 99% of the time he has been right.
There are still struggles, on my end, to stomach much of what he says and what he does. Every so often I find myself unable to retain my composure and I let loose. It’s those times I realize that he is growing old, and will soon die. That’s hard to accept, and as much as I might wish for it prematurely during bouts of anger and hatred, I know when the time comes – I will be a broken person.
I remind myself that he really doesn’t have many more years to go, and after reminding HIM of that, I remind myself again of how I DO NOT want what little time I have left with my father to be wasted on bickering, and hateful comments.
So I reach in to my sagging, leaking bag of memories and recall the little things that makes me love him so.
I remember him being the parent who always woke up in the middle of the night, or earlier hours of the morning, to rub tiger balm on my chest when I was ill and fret over me until I went back to sleep.
I remember him triple checking where I was going, who with and what I was going to be doing when I wanted to go out with friends.
I remember him taking the bus to the supermarket in Grey Lynn by himself to get our groceries , when we first moved to NZ and had not yet bought a car.
I remember him telling me to remember who I am, and where I come from. “If you don’t know where you come from, if you don’t know your family – you are nothing and one day someone will TELL you who you are.”
I remember him saying noone will love me if I don’t love myself.
A smattering of reasons I love my father. I love him is because I can’t not love him.
It’s in my blood, and I do not hold such a bond lightly.
So what is the purpose of this? I don’t know. I felt compelled to write something about him. It doesn’t come close to encompassing what he is like, and what he has done.. but it does describe my relationship with him as closely as I possibly can right now.
It’s Love/Hate. It’s life as a daughter of Shane.