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