Absenteeism

(Letter #1)

Mr. Carson,

It has only been a week since you left, but I already feel like there’s something missing from my life. Something more than just a person. We meet new people every day, and while some of them stick around, others are just fleeting encounters. You were the total opposite of a fleeting encounter. Whenever I needed anything I could ask you and you would do your best to help me, and now I don’t have that anymore. It sounds bad saying it that way, like I miss you because you can’t do things for me anymore, but I suppose if we’re honest with ourselves, that’s the main reason people are sad when someone leaves.

I hope wherever you went is nice. It’s still raining here, unfortunately. The Spring weather is drowning me out and I’m stuck staying inside again. I’ve been itching to go out to the lake and paint, but the grass is soggy and the air is uncomfortable. It’s a shame, too, since the fog rolling off the water would be a good sight to paint.

There was a radio program I listened to the other night that reminded me of one of our discussions. A young man named Darren was having trouble with his estranged father. The father, Cane, had left him at a young age, but decided to come back around when Darren got a good job. Apparently Cane had been slumming it in one of the southern states, and when he caught the scent of money he abandoned his trailer and made his way to Colorado.

I wondered to myself: What makes this man think his son is just going to accept his father after all that time? I remember you telling me how different the relationships between parents and children were when you were young, and if it would have happened at that time I could see it being probable, but these days kids growing up with only one or sometimes no parents is a lot more prevalent. The dynamic between creator and offspring has changed. Children no longer just accept their parents as God. I think my situation being similar might make me biased, but the bond between parent and child doesn’t form the same after childhood has passed.

The program described how Cane traveled to Colorado in his rundown ’78 Ford Pickup, stopping along the way at a highway rest stop and picking up a nerf football for his boy. The host laughed at this point, mentioning how Darren had never played sports and actually graduated with an MBA. It just showed how Cane knew nothing about his own son, having put no work into contacting him or getting to know him in the past twenty years of life, but he did put thought and effort into securing some kind of gift he thought would coax his son into welcoming him with open arms in this most lucrative time. It never ceases to amaze me how some people can put so much effort into the wrong things and not feel guilty for it.

Do you think, Mr. Carson, as many others do, that the increase in negativity in our world is caused by absenteeism in parents? The people of your generation blame the people of mine for the decline of our economy, citing parental discord as the main reason children run wild and act the way they do. Many feel we must subjugate the young and impressionable and mold them in an image of what we feel is good and just. But who decides what is good and just? The surrender of free will and the ability to think openly and objectively is too high of a price for social stability. You don’t need to sacrifice sentience for peace.

Anyway, Cane shows up at his son’s house. Darren didn’t even know his father knew how to find him. When he asked how his father had come to be in Colorado, he said he called his mother-Darren’s grandmother of which he was close-and gotten his address from her. It didn’t occur to Darren at first that the timing was peculiar, so he spent the next four months getting to know his long-lost creator. At the end of that four months, however, Cane tried to casually mention that he needed money, having apparently felt that four months was enough to wait. In true Hollywood blockbuster fashion, it hit Darren like a ton of bricks that his father, twenty years later, still didn’t care.

He told Cane to pack up and continue on elsewhere.

So now I’m thinking, not only does Darren have to continue to live his life without his father, he has a final bad memory in which to send him off. He spent all of those years growing up without a male presence. Learning how to play sports on his own. Learning how to shave on his own. Questions about his anatomy. Women. Everything he knew about being a man was learned from television and magazines. Everything he knew about being human he learned from his mother. This day and age, though, those two courses don’t mix. So what are we left with?

We have an increasing number of young men who are raised on their mother’s hips, yet are taught how to act by celebrity culture. Men are taught to respect women, yet are shown every day how to use them to their advantage. This mixture of home values and pop culture only serves to confuse these young men, and I’m afraid that it will only get worse with time.

It’s getting late in the day, so I suppose I should cut this off. I still need to do the laundry and get my art supplies together, so I can make sure I have enough of everything I need to go out when it gets nicer. Thanks for leaving the last of the Jasmine tea for me, it helps me sleep at night.

Until next time.

Yours,
Simon Fields.