So there are these denial tactics among humans regarding their dead: they either coat them with a rosy glow of wonderfulness, or they blacken them into full-time ogres. I seldom get a balanced account from anyone of a loved one now gone. Maybe I myself won’t be able to achieve a balanced portrayal of my father, but it’s my intention to try. It’s true of all of us that no one on the outside can ever know us in the same way that we know ourselves from the inside. Some of what I “know” about Dad from the outside would most likely shock him if he heard it, just as things people have said they know about me from the outside have been both shocking and totally untrue… from my inside knowledge of myself. We can’t, apparently, totally see ourselves as others see us, and vice versa.
My father was a sea of what most people would call contradictions (as I am myself), and most people would say that in a patronizing and also disparaging way. And it’s true: certain contradictions are difficult to grasp in a person, and difficult to operate with. But certain others are not, I will argue. Certain other contradictions show a person’s passion, and complexity, and zeal for living.
Gentle and mean; hyper and calm; brave and scared; highly intelligent and hopelessly naïve. A few of the contradictions in my father’s selfhood, the selfhood I could know only from the outside.