Once In a While, We Get Along

About seven months ago, we moved my mom and dad from the living facility where they had been living for the past two-plus years into my home. Given how things were, it was the prudent thing to help us keep the family’s place in Sussex County, DE, near the lower Delaware beaches – a place quite near and dear to my heart. Living completely on their own was no longer practical, so my 2,200 sq. ft. bachelor pad in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, was repurposed to help him, 92, and her, 86, feel at home under my roof.

With the approach of the move-in date and other worries about my life’s next steps, my stress and anxiety levels were going through the roof. I even sought medical guidance to help keep me from completely losing my marbles. My feelings ran the gambit from joy and excitement from providing a roof over their head to depression that the life I had cultivated, for better or worse, was being turned upside down, to downright frustration with occasional outbursts of anger over the challenges I was now facing.

Not the least of these hurdles has been butting heads with my dad over different world views born of a generational chasm. Much of my upbringing had been marked by our significantly different opinions on the role of money in life, leading me to carry some resentment for money’s very existence. Having grown up during The Depression and the years following, my dad seemed to view the world more myopically than me through the lens of wealth.

I, in contrast, grew up far more removed from, or shielded from, such dire economic uncertainty and desperation yet unhealed from childhood trauma (through no fault of my mom or dad). I developed the means to earn enough money to live more comfortably than I ever imagined possible when I was young. Moreover, being childless, I never experienced the modesty and often humility necessary to provide for others when access to means of providing is limited. I grew up believing that filling deeper voids was just as important, if not more important, than earning as much money as possible for its own sake alone. Our different views were often the undercurrent of our disagreements over the years.

Agitating the transition in our new living arrangements, I had come down with a bit of a bug a month a few months after they moved in, and my dad soon came down with what I had. Mom was spared. My dad and I were both more miserable than usual (and that’s saying something).

On one early summer night in June of 2023, several months into our new living arrangements (and after we were back to a healthy household), I was sitting on my back deck facing the setting sun shining through the much-diminished arbor, thanks wholly to my overzealous trimming of tree branches that were hanging too low over the deck. My dad came out and sat on a chair facing me to relax as I did my thing, whatever that was at the time. We exchange chitchat – nothing deep, but nothing pedestrian like his favorite topic – the stock market. I am struck with joy and gratitude that I, a grown man still stumbling around this nutty blue marble, could still chat with my dad – whatever the topic. Thanks to social media, I have often observed the sorrow of others who only have memories, especially on Father’s Day. Some, one whom I have recently endeared as family (because, by blood, he is), grew up without a dad.

I am wildly lucky to have this gift of time with my dad. Moreover, despite my many majestic mistakes, I am also aware of how good life has been to me. There is so much in my life that has long been derailed – or so I thought based on popular standards, but perhaps in no way whatsoever – and triumphing over all of it is realizing just how good my life has been. I have no idea what the future holds, but I will be fine as long I remember on every present day, just how lucky I have been.

This encounter with my dad inspired me to write this essay. As I reviewed and edited it a couple nights later, sitting at the same spot watching another sunset, my dad came out on the deck again, and we chatted about money again. This time I actually enjoyed the more philosophical discussion on the topic. As he got up to return to what had been my office and study, which was now the TV room for my parents, I told him how much I really appreciated these small moments we had to sit and chat. I will remember his response for the rest of my life. “Well, once in a while, we get along.” I chuckled and said, ‘Yep, we sure do, Pop. We sure do.’

Happy Father’s Day, 2023
Matt Gorman

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2 Responses to Once In a While, We Get Along

  1. John Pangiochi says:

    I love hearing people’s truth. That’s what our stories about life are.. our personal truth. No matter who we are, how much money, the privelege or prejudice or poverty, trauma is rooted in our DNA. Deep human wounds afflict us all. My Dad and I talked often and rarely agreed. I routed for the teams that he hated. I chose the party he voted against. I questioned every idea he shared. That honors him. He taught me that. Love was never in question. Enjoy every angry, loving, frustrating, joyful challenge. That may become the best memory.

  2. Dan Adams says:

    Padre is my endearing name for my father and coincidentally that by which my youngest daughter calls me.

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