Interview with Taylor Yoshida: Life with Mr. Personality and Ms. Propriety

I was impressed with Taylor’s commitment to her relationship with her parents, even if she doesn’t like them all the time.  She is faithful in pursuing relationship with the people who brought her into the world while they are still here.  That’s a big part of walking the road of no regret.

What’s your age?

26

Are both of your parents living? 

Yes

Marital Status of Parents: 

Divorced

Number of Siblings:

One sister, 17 months younger

How often do you see your parents? 

Once every three months.  When I travel home, I stay at Mom’s. I have one meal with Dad out to eat.  I don’t know where he lives, he won’t tell me.  We have to meet in public.

What are some of the ways you spend time together?

Dad and I go to eat; it’s all we do, ever.  Sometimes, if I can milk his time, I have him fix my car.  Other than eating out or fixing my car at his shop, we don’t see each other.

Mom is kind of person you can be with.  We’ll sit at the kitchen counter for three hours eating and hanging out.  We both love, LOVE shopping.  But she also loves special events, like art shows, craft festivals, picking strawberries, visiting a winery.  Stuff to get out of house and everyone enjoys it.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you enjoy your father’s company?

That’s a hard one.  My dad is Mr. Personality.  Anything that’s colorful about me, that’s what he’s like, but it’s stressful for me.  I’m always taking care of him and making sure he doesn’t offend everyone in the restaurant.  He’s very loud and over the top.  He always argues with people, and he’s in jail for it as of last night.  He pissed the judge off and got thrown in jail. When he’s enjoyable, he’s the most enjoyable person.  But when he’s not, the pain he’s caused in my life, I think “You shouldn’t be a father!”  I’d say a five, because it’s either one extreme or another.

 On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you enjoy your mother’s company?

She’s really stressful to be around because she’s very analytical, quiet, controlling, nitpicky, opinionated on do’s and don’ts.  She’s an etiquette stickler.  Instead of saying things the way you’d expect like, “Would you like some tea,” it’s “There’s tea over there.”  Is she offering tea or what? But she does want to be pleasant and it’s not all negative.  She’s a very old, Southern traditional type.  She made me go through cotillion twice because I didn’t wipe my hands properly.

Does spending time with them together affect the dynamic of the visit?

My dad was awful to my mom. Rude, treated her like the help.  My mother would have to beg him to come up to dinner and he would stand up and leave as soon as he was done.  My sister and I would clean up.  Dad was the king and he got to do what he wanted.  They started the separation/divorce process in 2002.  My aunt announced to the family at Christmas in my junior year that my father was cheating on my mother and I was sent to live with a family member.

The dynamic is different because I have a relationship with my dad now.  The years he was with my mom, he was so disconnected from her, that he was also disconnected from us girls.

What are some of the positive aspects of your relationship with them?

Dad can be really fun to be with.  He’s hilarious and always causing mischief and adventure.  He would do anything for me.  I’ve never questioned that he would go so far as to kill my ex-husband if I asked him.   He would sing “Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you have to do is call” every night to us.  He doesn’t hesitate to care about me.  He’s charismatic.

Mom’s really organized.  She keeps records to a T.  If I called her tomorrow to know if I needed a shot, she could tell me.  Everything she’s ever bought, she has the receipt for.  She’s the lady that writes the complaint letters.  She’s savvy about things. She is very accommodating and hospitable to company.  I appreciate what I’ve learned from her, even if she didn’t intend to teach it to me.  I’ve watched her and learn how to care for people and maintain friendship.  She’s very intentional. She sends cards and doesn’t write in them.  She writes on a post-it note so you can re-use the card.  And she always sends a dollar in it.

What about the negative?

Dad’s completely untrustworthy and extremely manipulative.  I will never know my father.  For Christmas in 2006, I got him the movie Big Fish.  I never heard from him about it, and then one day he called me crying.  I’ve never heard my dad cry.   He asked, “Is that what you think of me?”

Mom is awful at communication. She’s extremely passive aggressive and very judgmental.

Honestly, which weighs more?

For both, the positive outweighs it, because God has given me a gift to look at my parents and love them, but I don’t have to like them.  I can look at the positive parts of them and cherish that in myself.

If the relationship is positive, what are one or two of the most important aspects of their parenting that contributed to a healthy relationship?

It has nothing to do with their parenting.  It is 100% decision that I made: I could continue letting them hurt me, or I could remember that having a relationship with them is more important to me than not having one.  It makes me sad about my sister, because she hates my dad.

What do you wish they had done differently?

That they had been raised correctly.  I think there are direct connections about how my dad is to how he was raised.  And the same with my mom.  My grandmother and my mom are the same person, but I don’t think her siblings (my aunts and uncles) could pass a psychiatric evaluation.

What do you most appreciate about their parenting?

When they were parents, they were extremely invested in being parents.  I don’t have any complaints about my childhood.  It was a fairy tale.  We had a vacation home, I had tennis lessons, I got my first jet-ski when I was six.  We went to the Bahamas every year.  Their parenting was more of a priority than their marriage was.

How well do you relate to your sister? 

She is my best friend.  We might as well have been twins.  We dressed the same, did things together.  We talk on the phone 10 times a day–we sit on the phone and breathe!  We are a unit.  You can never break us.

Would she share your same reflections?

She doesn’t really talk about personal things.  She would never volunteer for this.  But, if she were sitting here, she’d agree with everything I said. I don’t know if that’s because she hasn’t taken the time to process how she feels about these things, or because I’m her big sister.

Can you share an example of a defining moment with your parents?

This is the first thing that came to my head:  I was the one who kicked my father out of the house one year after the announcement about his affair.  He was on his blue-tooth all day with his girlfriend.  He didn’t open any of his presents, and when Mom wanted us to watch him open his presents that night, I was like, “No!  We all had family Christmas and he didn’t partake.”  I lost my cool.  It had been coming up for a year.  My mom was scared of him for 25 years and hadn’t confronted him, so I said it.  I told him to live with the family he wanted to be part of.  I physically pushed him out the door and closed it.  He had spent all the money on his girlfriend.  It was bad for our relationship but I wouldn’t take it back.  We didn’t speak for 2 years. I drew up the divorce papers for them.

Has anything happened in your recent history with them to change your relationship?

I moved out of the house after high school and went through a big thing where I FORGAVE my father.  Then he lied to me.  I have learned to love him for who he is, but I don’t have to like him.  My sister insists that he should call her, make the effort, but I want to know the person who created me.  Who I came out of.  I don’t want to miss that opportunity while he’s alive just because he’s a bad person.

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