Barking Kitten

Fiction, musings on literature, food writing, and the occasional Friday cat blog. For lovers of serious literature, cooking, and eating.

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Close to forty. Not cool. Politically left. Atheist. Happily married. No kids.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Discerning Eye (Continued)

My father went mad very quickly. That is, he was troubled for a long time, certainly his entire life after the camps, but he functioned fairly effectively until I was thirteen. Then the retreats into the studio began, stretching from hours to days. His company gave him an early retirement. I don't know what precipitated this, only that he worked and then he didn't. My mother treated this as a wonderful opportunity for the two of them to travel, to take up golf. Of course nothing of the kind transpired; he went into the studio and refused to emerge. He lost much weight, he hardly spoke. Emily began her beach life and was almost never home. My mother yelled at my father through the door. Why are you doing this to me? Stop being so selfish! Josef! Joe!

Papa never answered. I hid in the rec room, angry. She should have said: Why are you doing this to us?

Meanwhile his reputation grew: shows in Dallas, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, San Francisco. His paintings were in demand; Blue Midday was made into a poster that sold millions worldwide, acquiring the weight of icons like Picasso's peace doves or Klimt's Kiss. Always comfortable, we became wealthy. Hence my house with an ocean view, Emily's penchant for spa vacations, Mother's piƩd a terre in Westwood, sold for an insane amount to a Chilean businessman.

None of this helped my father. He inhabited a private, incomprehensible hell. He never asked for help; my mother never offered. She treated his behavior as an annoying indulgence, a wash of pity he needed to transcend. Afterward people tried to excuse her, to palliate her absent guilt with fancy Californian self-help jargon. Denial. Co-dependence. Enabling behaviors.

Bullshit.

continued

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