Monday, November 9, 2009

fathers and daughters

Amelia writes of her father. "At one time I thought that (he) must have read everything and, of course, therefore, knew everything." In my family, I thought my mother was the font of all knowledge. This was likely because she contradicted my father at every turn and her voice was several decibels louder.

I grew up in the sixties, Amelia in the teens, a span of years separated our childhood experience, but I found similarities. Her mother was open minde3d, she let her daughters wear bloomers instead of skirts. My mother dressed me in overalls and work boots. Amelia's mother chose to divorce her husband after a long and difficult marriage. It was hardly the norm back then. My mother was one of three women in her medical school class, a Jew who was barred from attending most undergraduate and graduate programs. She later worked on family planning and was central to both Planned Parenthood and NARAL. We were both raised by women who thought outside the box.

I have imagined what Amelia and Muriel must have felt, watching their parent's marriage unravel as their father lost his way and became addicted to alcohol. I've thought about this father, and his unmasking. I've thought about what lessons were learned, how it impacted Amelia's decision to do what she had to do regardless, while Muriel chose a different path.

As we grow older, we learn to narrow our horizons, life presses in, we learn we can't all be Amelia. But we need her, all the same.

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