January 03, 2005

my father didn't call

My father didn't call on my birthday. I don't feel unloved; more people called this year than I think ever have. I feel surrounded and buoyed up by them all. I feel part of a community even though I'm not always the best at maintaining those ties myself. I feel good.

My father didn't call on my birthday. I shouldn't be surprised. I'm not surprised. And yet I am.

My father didn't call on my birthday. I feel a little sad. A door closed after all. A goodbye said silently.

We'd been estranged since December 2002, a year and a half, when he called this past May. On Mother's Day because I am, after all, a mother. He said he was reaching out, said he wanted to be in touch, said he missed me and that he'd call every two or three weeks and I didn't have to do a thing. I was warm to him, I said sure. I didn't bring up anything from the past. No reason. If he followed through and did call regularly (or at all), we'd have time to heal wounds. But that wasn't likely, was it? So why bother in a single phone conversation meant to soothe his own feelings of guilt and loneliness?

I called him on his birthday this year, November 11th. My family – my real family – was surprised. Why do that? He hadn't called again, not since that single phone conversation. True, but I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, assume he meant what he said or at least meant the surface sweetness of it, the assumption of a relationship even where one no longer exists. So I called him. He sounded surprised, as if he'd never made that reaching-out call in May. But pleased nevertheless. We talked. Friendly. Easy. I told him of things brewing in our lives. He said to please let him know if any happen. I realize now that he meant, "Because we won't be in touch, so otherwise I'd never know."

My father didn't call on my birthday. I'm almost relieved. I don't have any obligation to see him this summer while we're in New York. I don’t have to deal with him. I'm done.

Sometimes it takes many years to let go of a habit that's bad for you. Cigarette smoking is supposed to be the hardest. I think that's wrong. I think love is. The emotional bond may wither away entirely but it takes a long time for the habit to die.

Posted by Tamar at January 3, 2005 09:58 AM

I'm sorry.

Did I miss something? Do we have the same father? Did he recently move to Florida without telling you too?

That's our Dad. Gotta love him.

I'm so, so, sorry. Poor bastards just don't get it.

Posted by: Kelly at January 3, 2005 07:57 PM

I wish I were surprised by this. I am saddened, greatly. He is losing out on so much, your dad.

Posted by: Chris at January 3, 2005 08:38 PM

I'm with Kelly. We have the same dad! With mine, it's been four years. Since I moved, I haven't seen or talked to him [and before that the only reason I did was because his wife owned the bar I worked at]. Did yours ever try to throw money at you to make it better? It always kills me how fathers like this try to buy their kids' affection...

Posted by: angela at January 4, 2005 05:29 AM

Kelly, I had the same doubletake when I read your father entries recently, only I'm not so good at leaving comments -- I have the best intentions, but...

Angela, my father only threw money at me in between estrangements. When we were best friends, he felt wretched about how he'd treated me "back then" and gave the best presents. During said estrangements? Nope. His only gift to my son was a stuffed piglet doll when Damian was born. Damian is now six. No birthday or holiday presents ever, and certainly none for me either. Damian, fortunately, doesn't care. At this point, I hardly do either. Time does dull the wound.

And Chris? Yeah. His loss. And somewhere deep inside, he knows it, too.

Posted by: Tamar at January 4, 2005 10:11 PM

Hey, WE must have the same dad too! :)

I've always kinda tollerated it, I guess.. then in Nov, I was dx with Asperger's Syndrome - and likely got it from him who is probably not as high functioning as I.. and suddenly, he just made sense, the way he is.. so I guess.. while I wish it were different sometimes, we have an understanding. He just wasnt cut out to be a dad and I get that now. *sigh*

Anyhoo. Brady Bunch, we can not all be, I guess.

Posted by: Carrie at January 7, 2005 02:33 PM