Dan Wakefield (ed.) ‘Kurt Vonnegut Letters’, 2012, Ex Libris Vintage Books, London
On page 29 – the word ‘father’
To my father,
I do not know what you think of me and the life I lead, whether I have lived up to your expectations. Do I disappoint you? Those expectations I know of old, have they changed? For you do not speak of them. Yet, discontent is written on your face, for what is is rarely good enough. And that is how you have lived your life. I respect your tenacity, your refusal to let life get the better of you, your belief that though a mere mortal, you could make a difference to the lives of those for whom you were responsible.
You made your way to the top and what a view, even for your child, me. I have had the best you could offer, and it was pretty amazing. I had not wanted for material things, for your constant encouragement to succeed.
So I guess it feels like betrayal for me to say, that what you so highly valued, spent your life amassing and chose to impart to me had lost their shine. Perhaps it is not about values, but rather of perspectives. Ours don’t accord.
We have not spoken for years of things that matter. For once I no longer function in your world, one where you had the influence and control of me through your well-intentioned advise, you could no longer understand and see the person that I have become. And I, I bear the responsibility for failing to engage you in my world, for that required me to justify myself, over and over again. So we speak of the mundane, as if that is enough to maintain our relationship.
But this is all in my head. Perhaps you see me, I hope you do, and merely choose to make no comment. How loudly that silence speaks! Perhaps you are finally letting me live my life.
I know you love me greatly, but is your love unconditional? That is one question I have not had the answer to.