Friday, June 17, 2016

The Obligatory Photo Of My Dad

It's already started. People are displaying photos of their dads as their Facebook profile picture. I enjoy seeing the photos. My favorites are the old, scanned photos. If I had a photo of my dad, I would post it. On occasion, especially over the past few days, I have searched online for a photo. I have come up empty handed. My dad is well into his 60's. I'm guessing he's probably not computer savvy. His virtual thumbprint appears to be non-existent.

I've searched and searched and searched. Nothing.

I have a dad. He's not dead. He's not what some would consider just a "sperm donor." He was present in my life through my entire childhood and early adulthood. Although he had a heavy hand and most of the memories of him are jaded by that, he's still my dad. I know enough about his childhood to understand why he was the way he was. However, I'm old and wise enough to know that wasn't a valid excuse and it didn't have to be that way.

He had choices. 

My parents separated in January when I was 24. I'll never forget the day my mother told me of the news. At the time, my parents owned a 3 family home. My dad moved into one of the apartments upstairs. It was awkward visiting both of my parents separately. One downstairs. The other upstairs. That was the arrangement in the months before the official divorce.

That summer, after the divorce was final, things got weird. My dad met someone. It got serious. I wondered when I was going to meet her. I asked. A lot. One thing after the other came up. I was beginning to think he didn't want me to meet her.

The last dinner I had with my dad, I inquired about this. He got defensive. He said things that made my mouth fall to the floor.

That doesn't happen often.

I ended up throwing cash down on the table and walking out of the restaurant. On the way back to my parent's house, there was a blowout. He yelled. Loud. When we stopped at a red light, he was yelling so loud, people in other vehicles heard him. He was angry. It was like years of pent up anger surfaced. He made no sense.

Once back at my parent's house, he got out of the car and walked to the stairs leading up to his apartment. I yelled at him. Loud. Dropped a considerable amount of F-bombs. This was the first time I had ever dared to speak to my dad this way. I'll never forget the look on his face. He was pissed and immediately turned around and came after me.

I got into my vehicle in a state of panic and locked the doors. He pounded on the windows and kicked my vehicle. I sped out of the driveway and didn't look back. My entire body shook the entire way home.

When I got home, I sat in the living room. Still shaking. Trying to process and make sense of what had just happened. A half hour later my mother called. She informed me that I was no longer allowed on the property until after my dad moved out. He was moving in with his new girlfriend within the next couple of weeks.

I haven't seen my dad since. It's been almost 20 years. 

Years ago, after getting his address and phone number online, I wrote him several letters. With each letter sent, I waited anxiously for a reply. Nothing. I remember checking the mailbox every day hoping there was a letter or card from him. Nothing. This went on for about 6 months. One afternoon, I gathered enough courage to call him. I got his answering machine and left a message. Each time the phone rang in the days to follow, I thought it would be him. Nope.

Eventually, I gave up. That was the last time I made any attempt to call him. 

In the here and now, weeks go by and I don't think about him. Sporadically, he'll pop into my head. I wonder if he's retired by now. What he looks like. How he's doing. I learned that he met someone else and they married. I wonder how he explained having a daughter that he hasn't seen or spoken to in almost 2 decades. I wonder what he told his family. I haven't seen or heard from them in almost 2 decades as well.

Father's Day used to be rough for me. Now, not so much. It's more bittersweet than anything. I wonder if he feels a tiny jab on Father's Day. I wonder if he ever thinks about me. Where I live. What I'm doing. What I've done with my life. I wonder how he's handling this particular Father's Day. Last July, his father passed away.

More thank likely, I'll never get answers to my questions. I've made peace with that. 

On the opposite end of the stick, and on a more positive note, I'm' grateful to have an incredible father-in-law. Lisa's dad is an amazing and honorable man. I always enjoy his company. He's simple, down to earth, intelligent, interesting and exceptionally creative.

He's the one I call dad.

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