Saturday, July 22, 2017

Obnoxious, But Loved

His annual summer visit always leaves me feeling a little dizzy and desperate for silence. The damaged little girl, who often felt abandoned and unwanted, secretly celebrates the fact her dad is making a small investment of time into his adult daughter's life. However, the grown-up, semi-healed version of myself dreads the onslaught of non-stop conversation, charged political rants, and an intense inability to listen. This trip stirred up a hurricane of emotions, leaving in its wake, more questions than answers. You see, my dad is straight up obnoxious. He openly acknowledged this glaring character flaw, and during a particularly insightful moment, he actually asked me to define the word. I said something like, "Well, I think obnoxious behavior is when you do provocative things intended to aggravate or exasperate others. Obnoxious people are loud, opinionated, and pushy." He replied, "That pretty much describes me." Shocked by his verbalized awareness, I realized for a brief moment, I too possess this undesirable, yet pervasive, Franks family trait.

When I discovered the quote above, I paused long enough to consider the significance of the second line. In a family tormented for generations by the devastating effects of alcoholism, we all have our own ways of crying out for help. Some of us turn to the bottle itself. Others choose workaholism or perfectionism. Our proclivity towards extreme thinking and excessive behaviors feels built-in, almost instinctual. Overzealous opinions and stubbornness run deep in the crevices of our neural pathways, and it would behoove us all to heed the wise words of Earnest Tucker, Harley's father in the kitsch movie Pure Country, "Yeah, people just talk too darn much."

Although exhausted from all the incessant rambling and relentless chatter, I am grateful my dad drove from Lefors to Fort Worth to see me. He spends a lot of time alone, and I worry about his increasingly hermit like behavior. We share a common love for education, and I know he was proud of me as we toured the Region 11 Service Center where I'm now employed. He visited a local Texas Civil War Museum, and we caught a matinee movie. An afternoon dip in the apartment pool and an enjoyable evening meal of grilled steaks, asparagus, and fresh corn-on-the cob rounded off the day. I celebrated his recent entry into the world of Twitter, and we had fun figuring out his new Android smartphone. More than once, I heard him express deep regret for past mistakes, and I sensed a lot of pain and frustration when he spoke about a recent rift with my older brother, who happens to be a cookie cutter of his father. In a strange, complicated way, I think we all hunger for the same thingacceptance, forgiveness, and a sense of belonging. This man is insufferable at times, but I sure do love him.

The best part about being a Franks is our love for one another transcends our disdain of the brokenness we all possess. In her recent TED Talk titled, 12 Truths I Learned from Life and Writing, Anne Lamott remarks, "Families are hard, hard, hard. no matter how cherished or astonishing they may be." I couldn't agree more. 

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