Went into an employee apartment recently. Really I went into a bunch, but this one sticks out, because it was by far the most beautifully decorated apartment of all the employee units and one of the nicest apartments I've ever seen (and I've seen a lot). This guy, a maintenance tech, had carpeted the whole thing (most are hardwood floors), painted, had really really nice furniture including a dining room cabinet filled with glassware, and a Christmas tree. I was amazed. Most of the techs are married with small children, and their apartments bear obvious feminine touches, but this one just looked so well appointed and tasteful. I never would have guessed it of this tech!
There were pictures on the walls--pictures of his children, a little boy and girl. And there was a second bedroom, which is really the reason for this post, because it was like a little girl's dream come true. The first thing you saw was a huge four-poster bed of wrought iron with a chiffon canopy tied all around it, with a pretty white bedspread, plus a little pink Barbie vanity table that told you exactly whose room it was. There was other furniture too, of course, but the bed and the little vanity are what I remember. Suddenly, I wasn't seeing him as a tech. I was seeing him as a daddy, a daddy who cares about his little girl very much, enough to give her a room like that when she comes to visit him. And I miss that. I miss being a little girl, but more, I'm heartbroken, because I never got to be a little girl whose daddy could do things like that for her, with a daddy who wanted to give his daughter beautiful things, and be a little spoiled, and feel like I was the most special girl in the world. And...angry? Sad? Resentful of my siblings? That might be silly, because I don't know if my dad would have been that way even if I was an only child.
I look back to my childhood, and I'm torn, because I think my dad felt like he showed us his love in the best way he knew how. But it wasn't enough. It's unfair to him, that his best wasn't good enough, but was it his best? Was he the best father he knew how to be? He'd say yes, I'm sure of it. His children wouldn't agree, but then, perhaps we aren't the best judges of that. He didn't have the money. He didn't have the personality. He wasn't affectionate, not really. He wasn't vulnerable. Those were all the things I needed in a daddy, not the anger, not the tearing down, not the teaching lessons. As a little girl I didn't need to fear him. I didn't need his sarcasm, or his "jokes" about me or my sister.
And then...there's my other sister. If my father was a daddy to any of his girls, it would have been to my oldest sister, who was born when there was still a little money and a little patience. But she hurt him, somehow, unintentionally and irrevocably, and his heart was too sore and too fragile and too delicate to open it up to either of his other girls. Maybe that's why now my middle sister and I resent her so much. Of the little he had to give, he gave the most to her, and she still holds that position of power and privilege in our family, the smart one and organized and popular and the one who has the most of what the world can offer. He gave to her, and had nothing left to give to us, and yet, we're supposed to feel sorry for her somehow, that he was cruel to her, even though he was cruel to us too. She was the angel, the light, and when she hurt him, as little girls can do to their father, he couldn't pull it together enough to try again.
All of this over a four-poster bed.