It’s funny how we think of the word fortune in terms of money. "Wow, he made a fortune selling his house!" Wheel of Fortune. “She won a fortune on Jeopardy.” Or we think of cookies. Fortune doesn’t necessarily mean happiness. But it means success of some kind. Luck.
I have much fortune in my life. Too much, I think sometimes. I’m waiting for it to run out. Looking back, I don’t know why I deserve all I have. I don’t, really. Not any more than the next person. Why do some people get more than others? How often do we look at someone who’s down and out and say to ourselves “He deserved what he got, for being lazy, taking drugs, being irresponsible, sleeping around, trusting too much, not climbing the ladder, not cultivating his connections, not having the right family or neighborhood, not being savvy, just not trying hard enough.”?
Well, I am guilty of most of those things, and I’m doing fine. And I credit most of that "fortune" to my father and mother, for supporting in me just about any situation. For trusting that I’ll improve, even if I really messed up. For supporting me financially, when I was trying, but maybe not 100%. For opening their minds to the radical concept that their only son will not produce any offspring. For accepting my lover into the family as a son. Why did I deserve this?
I know there are people out there with parents who are less than stellar, and parents who are abominable. Did they deserve them? What if someone’s life is really messed up by their parents? Do they get to whine? Your parents have a huge effect on you. They indoctrinate you before you can even speak! And control you whether they are sane or fucked up or angelic or maybe just confused. You have little choice but to give in, at least until you are old enough to sever the cord.
Yeah, I had trouble with my Dad, but only because he and I just didn’t click easily. He certainly tried, like teaching me to throw a ball or catch one, or to play tennis. I didn’t know why I had NO interest in this, and he had no idea why, either. He had no idea why I threw tantrums and threw tennis rackets around to rebel in the only way I knew. But we clunked along, finding things we could share. This got easier as I matured. When it became clear I would be a musician, he supported me 110%. He pushed a little, too, for which I am ever grateful. I would obsess over practicing, but wouldn’t focus on entering competitions. So he filled out the forms, and entered my name.
As my career flourished, he started to reap the benefits. I won competitions, played solos with professional orchestras, got into good schools, and eventually got a good job. He enjoyed the glamor of my life. But he DESERVED to enjoy it. He had put a lot of effort into what I became. I didn’t know this at the time, but I realize it now. I owe him just about everything I am.
When he and my mother divorced, I thought I would never forgive him for abandoning her. And it took me a LONG time to sort that out. That’s when I finally started to leave the boy behind and really grow up. When it comes to relationships with parents, it’s much harder to grow up.
He visited me a few weeks ago. When I’m at a rehearsal, he sometimes gets bored, so I give him some things to do around the house, if he feels like it. Well, when I came home, he had swept the garage and raked a huge amount of leaves leftover from Fall. There’s no stopping him. At 76, he’s going strong…
His surgery was successful, though it took longer than expected. But he made it through the seven hours under anesthesia. The prospect of full recovery after radiation is good. I’m fortunate to have more chances to show my gratitude to him. (see Sonnet for Frank) I’m fortunate to have the parents I have. I’m much too fortunate for one person. I hope I can make amends for that in my life. I hope I can learn to give others as much as I’ve been given.