16 January 2011

Post: 295: The Diviner's Tale

The Diviner's Tale by Bradford Morrow.
ISBN: 9780547382630 (Uncorrected Proof - publishes Jan. 20, 2011).

Ah, there are moments that remind me why I started this blog, bits and pieces of literature that reach out from the page and smack me in the face and say, "Yes, this happens." It's a small thing really, but Cassandra and I share some past history. After Cass's brother dies her mother goes into a pretty deep depression and in order to get her mother's attention, Cass often resorts to calling her mother by her first name. Eventually this just becomes habit and continues into adulthood. Well, I can relate to that.  My father suffers from pretty severe Depression: that's Depression with a capital D. He gets so depressed he occasionally cannot function as a human being. He is a scary person when this happens.

The first time he went through a Depression was in the mid-90's. We were in Oklahoma at that time and he was actually institutionalized over Thanksgiving or Christmas.  I was about 10 at the time and no longer remember which holiday it was, just that it was miserable and no one had a good time that year. It was also around this time I first started calling him by his first name. Part of this was probably me testing the boundaries of the child-parent relationship, as well as first recognizing that my parents even had other names besides "mom" and "dad". At this time, I only used it to annoy my father, who had started calling me fat among other things.

I thought surely my own father couldn't think so little of me, that he wouldn't want to hurt me and was calling me these names only in jest. It wasn't until my parents finalized their divorce about five years later and Christmases and birthdays went by without so much as a card or a phone call I began to realize that he really did mean them. He may have thought he was being a good parent by providing me with "motivation" to lose weight, but really all it did was make me feel even more unwelcome in my own home than I already felt. By the time we moved and left him on Guam, I was glad we were leaving him behind. My mother was miserable for a while, but I noticed an immediate improvement in our actual quality of life, at least until my brother's behavior started going downhill.

With years between any contact, it just became natural to call my father by his first name. It also made the relationship less hurtful. It was easier to accept that some man who had been living with us for 13 years had called me all those names, had "loved" me, and was now gone and wanted nothing more to do with me. If he wanted so much to opt out of the role of a father, as it seemed he did at the time, then it only made sense to revoke the title as well. He still isn't much of a dad, and so to this day I am more likely to refer to him by his first name.

My review can be found on Goodreads.
LibsNote: Free copy received from publisher's booth at ALA 2010.

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