Parental Acceptance



Have you ever sat in a motorboat plunging through choppy water? Fingers clinging to the seat’s edge. Water spraying as the bow bucks and plunges.

That’s how the last few days have been ever since getting a call from my middle brother on Saturday. Our father was in the hospital, after experiencing a heart attack, and scheduled for bypass surgery.




The news rocked me. Dad was dealing with cancer and now this, and I couldn’t travel to be with him. He’s thousands of miles away – and my bank account won’t allow for the journey.

That huge distance – and gap of many years since our last visit — made me feel horribly disconnected from my father and his life.  The waves of our relationship have remained consistent through my adult years. Turbulence sparked by life decisions I’ve made and opposed by Dad.  And conversely decisions he’s made, (especially with relationships) that I’ve opposed.

Once or twice we’ve forged a peaceful accord — and then one of us – is, well, ourselves again.

I attempted to sever the relationship at one point, reasoning, wasn’t it better to: Ignore all the questions that had no answers?  Focus on the positive relationships and aspects of my life?

My mental brick wall stayed intact for a time. However, I abandoned it after discovering Dad had cancer. The two of us cried on the phone during what we thought would be a final conversation.

It wasn’t.  Since then we seemed closer for a time before  getting tangled up again. Bottom line, I am his daughter. But striking a lasting peace accord with him and he with me – that is a harder shore to reach. I am struggling to do so by looking at the man he is now.

Battling for his life and realizing he is a fighter. Not a quitter.

I recently learned Dad is the primary caregiver for his wife. That news surprised me – and provided a welcome insight into who he is today. He loves her, in the realest of ways.

Dad is pleased with me now that I am employed. He wasn’t happy with me, a few years ago when he learned I was attending college to pursue a degree. Was he worried that I couldn’t support myself — and isn’t that valid?

In the end, for me, it comes down to my accepting who he is and staying focused on where we can find common ground. 

I love him – and he loves me in his own way.

© 2016 by Mary Louise Van Dyke. All Rights Reserved.


Divided loyalties

Dear President George and Mrs. Martha Washington,
If you are keeping an eye on the affairs (dare I say) of the United States, you may find the current political scene strangely familiar. You know those elections where John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were at loggerheads over what directions the very new “United” states should take and loyalties to our former allies in Europe?
Well our loyalties — specifically knowing who to vote for in — the upcoming election are sharply divided.
Who will best represent our values? Oh the furor.
Candidate one — a blunt outspoken man whose past “locker room” words and actions, recorded in ways you never dreamed of, are coming back to haunt him in 32-pt type. Kind of an Andrew Jackson type — the man who represents the common man.
Only today, we say person to represent all of us. The ones who don’t make government their career and are feeling lost in the current forays over whose rights count for the most.
Martha, I can tell you women’s rights have progressed to the point where a former First Lady — the job you held during George’s two administrations — is running for president. I think your contemporary Abigail Adams would have cheered. She wanted women’s rights remembered when our constitutional rights were being established.
We have a woman nominee. A proud moment. But tarnished. Her record points to being the opposite of the blunt outspoken man. Electronic correspondence from her time as Secretary of State hidden, deleted, done away with when it is supposed to be subject to strict rules. And her husband is also a womanizer like the blunt candidate.
So, two flawed candidates to represent us folks — who are also flawed.
If you are watching, wish us wisdom and courage in this most interesting time, George and Martha. Wish whoever is elected the wisdom to put the United States’ interests first ahead of their own agendas — at least most of the time.
Sincerely yours,
A wary citizen
(C) 2016 by Mary Louise Van Dyke. All Rights Reserved.

Rental realities

I am trudging through the muck of discouragement and realism while searching for a place of my own. Even a room of my own (aka a studio) as Virginia Woolf advises.

My daily routine involves scanning Craigslist and linking into local housing sites. Querying friends and relatives if they know of anyone looking for a roommate or has an “inexpensive” place available for rent?

Currently the local market offers some opportunities if one can afford to purchase a home at a median price of $349,000. I can’t say that includes me. The percentage of available apartments is also low, about 1 percent I’ve been told. One percent frankly doesn’t offer much opportunity.

I submitted my name in to a few apartment complexes for a studio apartment – and was excited to get a call earlier this week. A perky voice told me a one-bedroom had come available for “only” $400 more than the studio I’d requested. Was I interested? I swallowed hard and said no, I couldn’t afford it. The caller said my name would be removed from the waiting list. Door slammed shut. Don’t come knocking.

Last weekend I met with a couple who are renting out rooms in their home. We met at a coffee shop to discuss the possibility of my moving in. Hope stirred as we discussed our various work situations and needs. The monthly rent was a little more pricey than I’d wanted, but I could swing it.

Reality struck when they revealed the location. I am a public transportation user and the location was located about a mile up on a tall hill The nearest bus route offers limited service. Up a hill, winter is coming and our area is famed for slippery black ice and limited to no snow plow service. Reluctantly I parted ways with that idea.

So I keep scanning the ads. Quickly weeding out all those that offer a “great room” for the burgeoning college age population that annually gluts most of the available rental market. Which is another reality that rankles. What are developers and municipal leaders doing to ensure more rentals for us year round residents? While keeping students coming here to this city.

Hope touched down briefly two days ago when I spotted an ad for sharing a two-bedroom apartment. My half of the rent was a figure I could manage. The tenant was open to meeting. Until I learned the rental agency required me to make enough income to pay the full monthly payment on the unit.

That possibility bit the dust. Okay, I understand what the agency is saying – they want their rent whether one or two people share the unit. But that leaves me – and others like me who manage on modest incomes – out-of-luck.

Me. I want a quiet – but not too shushed silent – place to live. Where I feel at ease and have shelves in the kitchen for storing cookware, dishes and food. Reasonably clean. A bedroom and a chair or lounger in the living room that are mine. Near an active bus line – I am tenacious about keeping that reality in mind now when answering ads.

Somewhere out there. My home is waiting for me. Despite the challenges, I will find it. I will.

© 2016 by Mary Louise Van Dyke. All Rights Reserved.