I have a seemingly distanced relationship to my parents. My father is no more, and my mother I only see once or twice a year. I rarely visit her, instead she comes here. We don’t talk much, some e-mails and a sporadic hello on msn. This is not because we don’t care, but I think, at least partly because we are both extremely independent people with very stubborn minds and very strong (often differing) opinions. We tend to start to argue, in a slightly exasperated, impatient fashion (ohmygoddon’tbedaft…) if we spend extended time together. I don’t talk much with anyone at all, on the other hand. So it might be mostly because of my introvert nature.
My mother gave me the gift of teaching me to think things through for myself and come up with my own opinion. She also attempted to teach me to argue my case if there was a difference of minds (and sometimes when there wasn’t really, playing the devil’s advocate to make me try to be rational), with this she was somewhat less successful seeing as I get shy and flustered and my mind freezes. Still, without her attempts I would probably be either a doormat or completely incoherent with rage when faced with opposition (this too runs in my family – on both sides of my parents!). Now I at least try to talk my way out of things. The third gift she gave me is strongly related to the first. She gave me atheism. I highly doubt that was on purpose, but I am fairly satisfied with the end result.
My father gave me the gift of making more or less crazy inventions to make things work, or adjust existing items for a slightly new and improved function. A different kind of creativitity from my my mother’s mostly artistical pursuits. (I got creativity from both sides though, just as I got stubbornness). He also taught me – inadvertently I suppose – to be a survivor. My image of my father is of course based on my own memories of him, and I must admit I took somewhat against him at a fairly early age. He did not present his charming side to me often enough. At the same time I always felt sorry for him: he seemed sad. With more years of own life experience I would say that he was probably highly dissatisfied with quite a lot, and rather insecure in many ways. I have also revised my image of him as a ne’er-do-well with endless business plans that failed, to a person with a crafty and inventive mind that made some really good inventions but also suffered several hard blows of misfortune, like the couple of years of poisonous algae blooms that killed off his fish.
My parents were both of course, like everyone else, flawed people in many ways, still I would like to believe they did their best and personally, I don’t really regret anything. After all, without my experience – good as bad, I would not be the me I know.