It's weird. One of the main reasons for me to leave my parents' in the first place was problems with dad. We never got along quite that well. He always treated me like a child and undermined every single one of my achievements. Nothing I did was ever good enough. I passed the year as top student of my class? No more than my obligation! I was invited for a national math competition for my grade and was in the top 5? No big deal! Now, should I do anything wrong... There was hell to pay. Not that he ever beat me, mind you. Never laid a finger on me. The most he'd do was threaten me with his slippers or a belt, but he never actually hit me. The yelling almost always did the trick.
This lasted over 17 years of my life. By the time I was 15 I didn't want to live in the same home as he anymore. I considered running away (for just a moment), but realized that my departure should be done properly so as not to kill my mother. For a little while I thought my problems would be solved very soon, back when my parents were having problems and almost got divorced. I'd easily be freed from living with him without hurting my mom. That didn't happened, they worked things out, and looking back at it I'm glad they did.
When I came back to Brazil I found the perfect opportunity to leave -- going to college/university. I told my parents that once I got into college I'd stop moving so I didn't have to repeat a year every time we moved. For mom's sake I took the vestibular (kind of like the SATs) for the Federal University in the city where her parents live. I got in. I moved out.
Funny thing is, just when I was about to move out, my dad finally realized I'm a human being and started treating me like one. He acknowledged an achievement of mine for the first time in my life. He was proud of me. And I left.
For the last few weeks I've been remembering more and more moments I had with him -- father/daughter moments I'd forgotten. This one thing came back very vividly: back when we first moved to Fortaleza we had to stay at the military base because our future house wasn't quite ready yet. The base is very pretty, the hotel is comfortable and the whole place kind of looks like a park, full of trees and shrubbery and flowers etc. We had to walk through the paths among the trees to get from the hotel to the restaurant for meals and he would run ahead of me if it had just stopped raining and make me chase him around. Then he'd run under a tree and pull down a branch making it "rain" on me. The image of him running and looking back at me (my completely soaked self) and laughing, so boy-like and happy, is still one of my fondest memories.
It sucks how, back when I was angry at him, I couldn't even remember these moments. All I saw was the bad things. Dad yelling at me. Mom and dad yelling at each other. Dad grounding me. Dad not caring about what mattered to me. The good stuff, our (few, but cool) talks, our games, our common hobbies, loves and hates, our happy playful moments, so many of them now that I'm looking back from a distance, it was like none of that happened.
We don't know each other very well. He was always so private about his feelings. For a very long time I actually thought he might not have any. He's just so much better at lying (to oneself, mostly) than I ever was. And now I worry that I might never have the chance to have him as a friend, like I'm doing with mom. I wonder if there's enough goodness in him for him to survive as he is now, non-Christian and all. And looking beyond the "religion thing", I wonder if there's enough time for anything anymore.
I guess most people only deal with these issues much later in life and I actually have plenty of time to make up for past mistakes and injustices. I still know that I wasted almost all my life focusing on myself to actually see... Like I said, he only recently realized I'm a human being, but I did the very same thing to him. He was always just mean old bossy dad. I wonder if I can ever make up for that.