Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day

I am not very good at Father's Day. I used to be. Or I used to think I was. Because I just didn't let myself be sad about it. Because that would been showing vulnerability, which was a bad idea. So it was just another day. And somehow showing any sadness for my father was taken as a direct criticism by my mother. She so often pointed out that he chose to leave, he chose to die. And she stayed with us. And when she said that it really didn't feel like it was her choice to stay, but she got stuck with us because she didn't get out of it first. And she used to tell us it wasn't fair. She never got a break. She was never going to get a break from being a mother because our  father died and left her with us and being a single mother was so much harder when the kids don't get to go to their father's house every other weekend. Those things are undoubtedly true, she was on 100% of the time with no partner to pick up any slack. But it just made me feel like a burden. 

And then sometimes she would tell me how lucky I was that he was dead. Because if he had lived we never would have had the opportunities we had because we never would have left Ligonier, Indiana.
And for a while, I agreed with her. I thought I was really lucky that my father died. Like he did us a favor. And that is pretty fucked up. But it made her happy to hear it.

So for the past 30 years I have ignored it, gutted it out, acted like it just wasn't happening when at all possible, and today I just can't do it. Maybe it's because last month it was 30 years. A fact I realized randomly while driving to an appointment. I only know it's sometimes in the end of May, because I don't think we ever knew the day he died. We only knew the day he was found. Today, I think I miss him.

I had a father for 25% of my life. And he was a drunk for about 50% of that. I think of that 12.5% and wished I'd paid more attention to things. I wish I had made some better memories. Sat still and listened more often. Learned how to make paper airplanes. Liked fishing more so I could have hung out more.

I know so little about him and I forget more every year. I haven't been able to remember his laugh or his voice for years. Sometimes I kind of think I can, but I know it's just me trying to hang on to something. I only have one picture of him taken when I was 2 or 3, that's all. Sometimes I look in the mirror and think I have his blue eyes. But then I can't remember anymore. I know I flick dirt or crumbs off my fingers the same way he did. I. know he could build things and fix things, and he loved airplanes. I think he loved flying more than anything else in the world. I think flying a plane was probably the only time he felt happy. And I was too scared to go with him when I had the chance. I stayed home and waited for him to fly over our house a few times and "wave" at us with the wings.

That's all I have now, and I know I will have even less in the coming years as the memories get worn away.

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