Sides of Fathers


“You are just like your father!”
My mother used to say
(insert a dab of guilt soaked
Oy Vey Eastern European
coloration here).

“You have this side
your father has,”
she would sigh in a colossal disappointment.
And I would walk around for days
and wonder just which side she meant.
Was it the side that would explode my father
into some random whistling outbursts,
which would silence him at our evening beds
So we could tell our stories, uninterrupted,
which would inspire him to compose poems about flowers
as he tracked the 149 types of tulips
in his gardens.

Or was it that other side which my mother
could barely stand,
the side which nastily possessed him
to lay the bathroom tile all crooked
for the seventh time
and then wear the wrong shirt for the family reunion,
or be blinded to the dirty socks
deviantly rolling on the floor.

So I would lay there
before sleep
(as I still do)
I close one eye at a time,
look at the profile of my nose
to check which side looks
like my father.
To figure out which is my good side.

This looking at the sides
is curious indeed.
One side of my nose does look
quite like my father’s.
The other — like my mother’s.
Which probably makes me same as you.



About BeeHappee

Where have all the bees gone? Where have all the flowers gone?
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28 Responses to Sides of Fathers

  1. I think I’d’ve loved your dad, even if his chaos would drive me nuts sometimes.
    And I always wonder why parents play that guilt-card on kids using a loved one as a bad example?? I used to hear that… a lot, too. Among other things…

    • BeeHappee says:

      Oh, Ron, unless you dealt with Lithuanians, you don’t know nothing from guilt. 🙂
      Best of luck to you. Hope all is going well and all sides are flourishing.
      P.S. Ron, it just occurred to me, the tulip thing – you are Dutch! The Dutch Tulip Bubble of 1637 when a bulb would sell for an equivalent of $2,000! My parents did grow tulips for sale (and got obsessed with them) for a long while, and they went up to 150 or so varieties, I still remember harvesting and sorting the bulbs, and keeping the flowers cold in the fridge, and selling in the markets. In the documentary “the Botany of Desire” they show this Dutch man who is quite obsessed with them.

      • Yup, the Dutch and everyone else in Europe went nuts over those bulbs. And I really do not like them!! They have no appeal to me at all, despite being a plantperson.
        Everything is going just fine. Thanks for asking. How are you faring?

        • BeeHappee says:

          Thanks, Ron. Life is as great as can be. Moving with the winds here (and they can be strong in Chicago!). Thinking maybe winds will bring me over to Europe this year yet. Ha, will definitely keep in touch with you if we swoop by the Sweden’s woods some place.

  2. nicoleaugust says:

    I’ve noticed that both my parents have changed a lot over time. So I guess you’d have to specify a date to go along with the side :).

  3. DM says:

    And the older I get the more I see both of them in me….(and eventually, if you’re like me, you’ll start to see at least one of your grandparents in you too) I liked the open. (ps. I can really identify with your dad’s fashion statements) 🙂

    • DM says:

      (that was supposed to read at the end, “I liked this one”.:-) not I liked the open. Think my keyboard keys are starting to stick)

      • BeeHappee says:

        Hi Doug,
        Sounds like new keyboard is in order, all that typing for the book. 🙂
        Yes, the fashion statements. We all have different boundaries on how many wrinkles on a shirt we will accept. 🙂 And some of us are just boundary-free.
        I am sure our parents and grandparents greatly influence our personalities. I think my main thinking behind this poem was that we all have sides that someone will accept or have hard time accepting. I still have much work to do on my enlightenment to be able to accept the nagging business (and a few other things).

  4. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says:

    I love this one Bee! You write so beautifully!
    I definitely see my mother and father on both sides of my nose.
    I really don’t like it when a parent uses the other parent’s behavior as a guilt weapon.
    We used to call those certain looks or phrases GPMs (guilt provoking mechanisms)
    My husband is Dutch. He loves tulips. Not obsessively, just likes having them around.
    Great poem, Kristina!

    • BeeHappee says:

      Thank you, Mary.
      Yes, the guilt card that we can play on ourselves or others can be quite tricky. We are so lucky these days to have virtually unlimited access to resources and tools to help us work on ourselves. My parents generation in Soviet Union had it rough, it is a generation stuck between a more traditional society of a an extended family living in villages and the younger generation born into a free country and better adapted to modern world. They had very little help with parenting or relationship issues from their own parents, who were remote, and the other resources like books, articles, internet, professional help, were virtually non-existent. We are blessed with the plenitude of resources and support we have now.
      I can not say that much hailed tulips or roses are my favorite flowers, but perhaps like people, all flowers are special in many ways. Once you start with them, start growing them and taking care of them, they do grow on you, so to speak. Once you look at the flower beyond the outwardly superficial maybe, beyond the “shirt”, if I may use the images from the poem, then you start seeing the real beauty and develop a connection. They are magical.
      Much Love,

      • Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says:

        Yes. “Once you look at the flower beyond the outwardly superficial maybe, beyond the “shirt”, if I may use the images from the poem, then you start seeing the real beauty and develop a connection. They are magical.” With flowers, the shirts are also magical to me. With people, I often need to look beyond the shirts! Thank you for sharing what your parent’s generation went through. We really do have a lot of helpful resources here. Must have been difficult for you growing up with parents who had no role model for parenting, being separated from their own parents. I can’t imagine what it would be like to come over here, to a completely different culture, language, way of being. How old were they when they came here?

        • BeeHappee says:

          Mary, oh sorry for confusion. No, my parents never came to this country (tried to convince them, but they are not buying into it! 🙂 ) I came here when I was 20. But my parents left the villages where their families lived for generations and moved into the cities with the industrialization of the country, at the same time much of institutions taking over biggest parts of life: child rearing, feeding, jobs. The Soviet rigidity had some sad consequences (but perhaps it was just the winds of those times?), childbirths happening in very strict hospitals, fathers not allowed to come to see their babies in fear of contamination, no natural bonding supported, much of destruction of family unit … those types of things.

          • Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says:

            Wow. That kind of rigidity. In my parent’s time, men weren’t allowed in delivery rooms. Women were knocked out and it was all very clinical, not so much bonding. Things are different now. I’m sure never as rigid as Soviet Union. I have read some, but not enough to know what it was really like.

  5. Lovely poem 🙂 as always! –Paul

  6. Hariod Brawn says:

    The older I get, the more I see of both my parents within and of myself – thankfully, it’s not too worrying [ ,) ] and I’m sure the same is true for you. Lovely work, Kristina.

    • BeeHappee says:

      Of course, it is rather hilarious, not worrying. In fact, when that youthful illusion of ‘I am so different and special’ wanes, then looking back becomes just another confirmation of how alike we all are. (although I do worry I may need to re-do something seven times, because like my dad, I cannot make lines straight).

  7. Scott says:

    Yeah, I just winked both eyes. 😉

  8. smilecalm says:

    a wonderful exploration
    of both sides
    of the same
    coin 🙂

  9. Michael says:

    A beautiful poem. We have so many sides to us, Kristina, and I think as we mature and come to accept ourselves as who we are, we not only learn how to be whole and to have sides all at once, but we realize how much lives on in us that matters. Our sides are so important. We discover how different our parents were, and how miraculous it was that they took a chance on life together, and then… us…

    I also think about childhood often while falling asleep. Some funny things appear!


  10. Wonderful muse dear Kristina.. have you tried looking cross eyed 🙂 this can help! 😉 chuckle.. Sad in a way how parents can always find the critical buttons to press, and how we then keep on pressing them over and over.. My own parents are often in my fitful moments of awaiting sleep.. The one thing I bless each of them for.. Is that I am here, Me… a bit of both and yet unique to myself ..
    That is who you are… Unique… 🙂 and Beautiful
    Sue ❤

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