My relationship with my mother was as close as close could be. We spent hours and hours in each other's company, never tiring. We thought alike, spoke alike, looked alike. I looked to her constantly for wisdom, understanding, and fellowship. Our worlds were on synchronous orbits.
My father, on the other hand, was unknown territory to me. He was on a path of his own, his orbit only occasionally intersecting with mine. Although bound by one of the deepest connections possible, we were not truly connected by inclination, proximity, or habit. We rarely saw each other. When we did, the time spent together was awkward, rife with those silences that occur when people are not quite sure what to talk about next.
My relationship with my mother is frozen in time. I will never know how it would have played out, how it might have ebbed and flowed with time, or deepened as we both aged.
My relationship with my father, however, has changed dramatically over the past few years. We now cross paths much more frequently than in the past - sometimes of necessity, sometimes by desire. We have a kind of symbiotic relationship: he depends on me for some things (like sewing), and I depend on him for other things (like fixing stuff). We take turns being the parent.
Although we are still a little wary of each other (he, afraid I will cry; me, afraid he will rant and rave), we talk together, laugh together. I have discovered he has a great sense of humor, something I never knew until the past few years. He still makes me crazy from time to time, but at least we are close enough now that he has the opportunity to make me crazy.
My father is a difficult man to completely like and admire, but I have now built a relationship with him based on affection (and, yes, duty). My relationship with my father will never be the same as the relationship I enjoyed with my mother. But my time with my mother is in the past, my time with my father is in the present - and the future.