Tomorrow is the day we honor all those who serve in the esteemed role of father, so I find it a bit intriguing that I sit here with pen and paper writing to you. Calling you a father would be a gross overstatement, but I cannot deny you this title, no matter how ill-fitting it may be.
As I write this, I am transported back to a bucolic spring day in 2002, even though I sit behind a desk piled high with files. The ringing of the phone is no different that countless other times during the day. The news received wasn’t even so surprising. Word of your early death was expected by many, given your overindulgent lifestyle. However, I was not prepared for the words I heard that day to pull me back into the same black hole your abuse helped push me into many years earlier. I had always imagined word of your death to feel like a sweet release, an unbinding of long-held chains, needed closure…not to be.
What was I to do with this information? The last ten years of your life produced only one brief alcohol-induced call from you. There would be no memorial service to plan, no grave site to visit.
I hung up the phone, humiliation creeping in at thoughts of what my co-workers would think of my callousness, a quick return to work immediately following such tragic news. Of course, they did not know our family’s dirty little secrets, did they…the pain caused at your hand, the scars that have faded with time but will never disappear. No one was there to hear you trying to convince a little girl that “stranger things have happened”. To this day that expression still sends chills down my spine.
Surprising to me, as Father’s Day nears, I find I want to thank you, for bringing me into this world and for instilling in me the value of hard work, even if it was born of chasing your elusive acceptance, which never came. Sadly, I cannot thank you for being the quintessential father figure, as you were absent from this role.
Although the news of your passing did not bring the blessed relief I expected, the ability to come to a place of forgiveness many years later allowed me to rewrite the final chapter of this book. Wherever you are now, and I wonder that often, I pray you are at peace, as I am.