Goodnight, From One Imperfect Being to Another (part two)

April 24, 2017

I sit on the conversation with my father for two days, worrying it in my brain. A pesky knot, scratching in my corners.

Finally, I just call.

“Hey, Dad. Are you eating dinner?”

“No, nope, not yet. I’m paying bills. Sucky business. You busy cooking?”

“I’m at the glass of wine and contemplation stage,” I say.

He laughs.

“What’s up?”

“Look, Dad. I’ve been thinking. What you said the other night when we were at dinner. The part about how you wish you’d done better by mom. You said it and I just…kind of let it sit there, and I don’t know if I should have…” I sit down and swallow. “Do you want to talk about it?”

There’s silence on the other end of the line, which I expect.

Of all the things my father and I say–of all the things we have ever said to each other– “Do you want to talk about it?” is perhaps the rarest sentence of all.


“Well, I…Sure. We can talk about it,” he says, and I picture him sitting at his redwood desk, hunched over meticulously sorted mail, rubbing his forehead.

I force myself to wait.

He sighs. I can hear him shift in his seat. “It’s just, you know, when someone’s gone, you get a little nostalgic about things, and you think about things sometimes, about maybe some things you could have done differently. I think about your mother, and how she’d get really mad at me once in a while, and bring up the things I did wrong, things I should have done better, and I’d just kind of walk away. Leave the room, throw up my hands.”

Wait, Dana. Wait.

“It’s not that I’m…sad…about it, really. It’s just that maybe I could have stayed and listened. When she got mad. Maybe I should have.”

Wait, and…dang. Not good at waiting.

“Okay, Dad?” I interrupt in earnest but can’t help laughing. “We gotta talk this through, buddy.”


“First of all, you’re talking about when mom was mad, and when mom was mad, she was the Scariest of All Things. Of. All. Things.”

I get the laugh I’m looking for.

“It wasn’t just you, Dad. When mom was mad, Hell. We all cleared the room as fast as we could. Jesus. Me, C., the cat, you? All of us, man. Outta there.”

“I know.”

“And yeah, you could have listened to her, but I’m pretty sure you didn’t want to do that. I’m sure you’d already listened plenty. Because Dad. She did that thing. That thing where once she got mad, she’d get going. And once she got going, every single thing you’d ever done wrong, even if it was twenty years ago, she brought it out, starkers, in the open, up for discussion, yet again. Even if you thought you’d listened and it was over, it was never over.”

“I know.”

“It was just her way. When it came to messing up, she kind of had a zero-tolerance policy. You just weren’t allowed.”

Now he’s the one who is waiting.

“So this is what you’re telling me. You didn’t want to stick around for the re-hashing of all the times you came up short? Didn’t want to grab some popcorn and stay for a while for the show?”

“I guess not.”

“Smart man.”


“She tried so hard,” he says.

“She did,” I say.

“I disappointed her.”

“We all did, Dad. I know she expected better. But we messed up. We fucked up. We weren’t perfect. She wanted us to be, but we weren’t.”

“Hell, nobody’s perfect, though.”

“So who carries the burden, here?” I ask. “The people who were human or the person who expected us not to be?”

Can we call it a draw?

Does it even matter?

Tonight, I think it does.


“You’re good to call your Dad and check up on him,” he says.

As if.

“Daddy? I’ve been thinking, and you know? It’s good mom didn’t want to be buried.”

He smiles, I can tell. “Well, I think so, but why do you?”

“Can you imagine that headstone? ‘Expected Perfection. Eternally Disappointed.'”

“You’re wicked,” he says.

“I know.”

“Goodnight, Mr. Imperfect.”

“Backatcha. Goodnight.”


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie April 24, 2017 at 6:33 pm

Man oh man is this ever my grandmother. I once listened to her recite a list of traffic tickets my grandfather had received over the past (50!!) years to justify her horrible back seat driving tendencies. It was jaw dropping.
I love that the two of you can have these conversations with all the honesty and awkward humor which comes along with it. Xoxo


Dana Talusani April 28, 2017 at 4:02 pm


We sort of have a blue ribbon in awkward. :)


Julie Gardner April 25, 2017 at 7:27 am

Beautiful and wise and honest.
Just like you.


Dana Talusani April 28, 2017 at 4:01 pm


Not sure about the wise part, but the honest part is true. Thank you.


Michelle April 25, 2017 at 10:36 am

Lovely words. Thank you. Reminds me of my grandmother…it amazes me how deeply we can love someone (and be loved by them) while never quite meeting their expectations. You have a beautiful relationship with your dad.


Dana Talusani April 28, 2017 at 3:59 pm

Thank you. He’s a keeper.


Tiffany April 25, 2017 at 4:16 pm

You and your Dad give me all the feels. Love this and you.


Megan (cin) April 27, 2017 at 2:57 am

one of your best ever! Perhaps I’m biased, but I swear I saw Dad rub his forhead, felt you wait for his words. Dad and I had a similar talk about not pleasing Mom…how I didn’t know the long list of all I’d done wrong. The short list was obvious…but the long one got me.

Thank you….for writing.


Dana Talusani April 28, 2017 at 3:58 pm


Of course you saw him rub his forehead. It’s a Trademark Dad Move. :)


Shell May 1, 2017 at 1:50 pm

I lost my mum last October. She was very ill for six months before, and by the end she was basically senile.
During the same period, I finally ended my bad marriage. It was something I needed to do for sometime and it was probably the biggest source of conflict between my mother and I.
She felt I deserved better and she was angry with me because it took so long for me to figure it out. Such a typical mum reaction!
I’d like to say that I have no regrets following her death, but she died before she got to see me really doing it on my own and being ok. I feel like I was a good daughter….mostly. But there comes a point where we just have to forgive them and ourselves.
Thank you for your beautiful writing. Much love to your dad.


Dana Talusani May 3, 2017 at 12:04 pm


I’m so sorry about the loss of your mother and all you’ve been through. How strong you are to have pulled through it all. Thanks for sharing.


Rosalie May 14, 2017 at 3:12 pm

I haven’t read you in entirely too long. How lucky I am to have found you again for this piece. You have only grown wiser and more beautiful, and I didn’t think it was possible. This is perfect.


Dana Talusani May 15, 2017 at 12:01 pm


So good to see you!! Hope all is well with you and thanks for popping in!


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