Omission ~ Remission

Omission ~ Remission

What follows is a free flow of thoughts – and not very cheerful, at that – looking back more than fifty years. It’s not something I’ve ever written about, for myself. I thought it was time. I learned a lot from my father, and we had a good relationship, but this is about letting him down, which was a lesson in itself. Those who are familiar with my writing will know that it’s a long piece, for me. To the right is a distillation, of sorts – again, not very cheerful.

Omission

Trying to be involved, but always
self-conscious. That was me, in school.
Except as an athlete, which wasn’t me, at all.

Until I was told I was fast enough
to run track. So, a ninth grader walked
to the high school every afternoon.

When an athlete’s dinner was held
at the junior high, I was clueless.
I wasn’t an athlete. But, yes, I was.

At the last minute, I attended,
only to find out it was a father-son event.
How could I tell my father?

I didn’t have to. Two days later,
my mother said, “Dad was at the bank
for the car loan. The president said

he saw you at the father-son dinner,
and he was sorry Dad couldn’t be there.”
Flash forward three years.

I remember her words like it was yesterday,
“You know, Dad went to your track meet
and you never acknowledged him.”

The one time he left work early
to see me run, and I didn’t see the one face
I’d always wanted to see there.

Too self-conscious, I would stay
away from the bleachers,
except to talk to my girlfriend.

It had to look like I was ignoring him.
Not a word was said afterward, but I knew.
He was disappointed. I would have been.

Did I feel as bad about it as he did?
It sure felt like it. It took me another week
to tell him I never saw him at the meet.

And he never went again.

Remission of Self

Class within class
Self-conscious

Wanting to be unseen
Self-consciou

Student or jock
Self-conscio

Extreme apprehension
Self-consci

Inattentiveness
Self-consc

A father’s expectations
Self-cons

Wanting to be seen
Self-con

Guilt by omission
Self-co

Unmet expectations
Self-c

Too little, too late
Self

Disappointment
Sel

Reconciliation
Se

Acceptance
S

Remission

Self

Ken Gierke

Linked to Write me some treats! from Lillian, for Open Link Night at dVerse.

48 thoughts on “Omission ~ Remission

  1. You have touched the truth. It is never easy. But your words have reached deep into my own heart, and reminded me of myself, both son and father. In two weeks my one child is marrying in Brooklyn. I will be there, God willing and the creek don’t rise. Thank you for reminding me of the truth. We all live. We all love. We all suffer. We all rejoyce. My plane flies over Missouri one way Monday morning, and the way back the next Monday night. I shall think of you and B.

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  2. Life is like a novel, and we don’t always get to participate in the writing. We speak of “God’s will”, kismet, karma…interesting to make this a list poem.

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  3. Oh the memories we keep simmering inside our selves, long after our parents are gone. As a parent of children who now have their own children, I can honestly say that we as parents carry memories too, of times we wish we did not have or things we wished we did in our dynamics with our children. Runs both ways.
    And I do think that writing poetry or short stories or any form….is a way of bringing those feelings to the forefront and acknowledging them…..even many years after the fact.

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    • Thank you, Lillian. Writing as acknowledging – Yes. I may not have recognized it at the time, much of my writing in the nineties served as a sort of therapy. That sort of writing can be done at any time, of course, but writing about something like this now is a reminder that we’re always learning and able to apply different perspectives gained from those lessons.

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    • Thank you. There never was a rift between us, and the healing over the slight occurred long, long ago. My father died when he was sixty. I cherish any memory of him, and now that I’m well past that age myself, these thoughts come to me more often. I’d say the second half of this is the process I went through at the time all of this happened.

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  4. Like Lillian said, whether they are memories of you as a child and your parent or memories of you as a parent and your child, some are what could be called kryptonite. They don’t go away and they can hurt us. I think it is ok to revisit those memories as long as they need to be revisited, but at some point, at least consideration of forgiveness needs to take place. What is so often bypassed when it comes to forgiveness is forgiveness of one’s own self. It doesn’t serve to excuse the behavior but it does allow the burden to be set aside. Now, to say, none of what you describe was intentional!

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  5. Great way to tell a story – left column alone is powerful, concise, relevant for reflecting on my own youth (under parents/school influence). Then the right column – wow – that is a snapshot of maturing, bit by bit becoming “self” and able to claim it.
    This brings home the nature of child vs adult … what is and is not discussed … a self-conscious child in particular avoids serious discussion about almost everything. And parents are so busy with other matters, if the child doesn’t inquire, the topic probably doesn’t come up. I’m referring to my parents and also to the years I was single mom to two (I call those my referee years). My kids are now in their 40s and the three of us have become essentially friends, able to discuss all manner of things. Sometimes they share stories of things they hid from me at the time … usually I’m glad I didn’t know at the time!

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    • 🙂 Thank you, Jazz! I did learn a lot from my father, but he died at 60, and I wish I had asked more about his life before marriage at 19. I’d already been around for 40 years when he died, and while we had plenty of conversations, I think that by that point we both thought I knew all there was to know about his childhood. I was able to understand his values were formed by an early childhood in the Depression, his mother’s death when he was 13 and the need to leave school then to work beside his father, but that understanding was just coming as he started telling me stories in his last year. While I did learn, having those background details would have added more insight.

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      • If my parents were alive, I’d be an inquisitive pest! The older I get, the more interested I get in how they became who they were as my parents. My father died at 58 (I was still in high school). Mother was willing to talk after I became a mother. But we lived in different towns. She died in 1990 (at 72) with so many inquiries never raised, never answered.

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  6. I can so relate to the self consciousness that was most debilitating to me as a child. The fact that your father never returned to another of your athletic events because he felt unacknowledged says a lot about his own burdens of becoming self actualized. So much is unsaid between ourselves and our loved ones that can create much pain and misunderstandings. I suppose it is then left to us to work at letting go of that pain that doesn’t serve us in any way. Thanks for sharing your intimate feelings.
    Gayle ~

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    • As the sole breadwinner in a blue-collar family, it was nearly impossible for him to leave work, and I understand that and how his presence was that much more special. We moved on and had a very good relationship.

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  7. Life is full of missed connections. Adolescents are generally clueless about their parents, and parents often don’t know how to communicate their desires. Love is not easy from either side. You’ve captured all that beautifully. (K)

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  8. Yikes! The unintended consequence of not paying attention, and of making assumptions – the curse of adolescence. This is an interesting poem. I often think the sins of omission are worse than the ones of commision. I think it would be a great poem minus, if you don’t mind my saying so, the remission column, to share with teenagers. I would suggest giving it to them with just the omission because of the attention span thing – the story by itself is so poignant and real to the time and space in which your experience derived I think kids would really relate. Do you know a Jr. High or High school English teacher?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s amazing how we can be transported back to a time and literally feel the feelings as if they were happening in this moment. I want you to know that I felt your feelings…and I felt your dad’s feelings too. Great writing!

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