The Tone & Timbre

My father called here this morning. Why does he have such a hold over me? I hadn’t heard his voice in 6 months, and yet the tone, the timbre, are as familiar to me as my own, yet so foreign at the same time.

Alexa answered the phone, but she didn’t recognize him. After all, she’s only talked to him twice before. She covered the mouthpiece and asked me who he was, if she should speak with him, if it was okay. I wonder if he wants some sort of relationship with my children. He claimed he did once, but that was a dog’s age ago, and he disappeared again.

Is he back? Or was this just a Mothers’ Day surprise?

Why does he, even now, hold such sway over me, over my thoughts? I ask myself this less and less, but always when he calls again, after so much time. And I know I should make up my mind. Do I want to try and craft a relationship with him, even now, even after all this time?

Do I have the capacity to forgive him for everything he’s done, or not done? Do I even want to? Do I even have to in order to move on?

I guess it’s not that simple. It never is when dealing with love, and hurt, and pain. It never is when trying to figure out dormant feelings, repressed emotions, and everything that comes along with those feelings and emotions. And on top of that, it’s not that easy to think of everything that entails. Do I want my children exposed to a relationship with him, or what passes for a relationship with him?

Because I know I’ll have to do all the work. I know it’s not really a 2-way street where he is concerned. It never has been, though he will apologize and say he wants to spend time and energy on the relationship. I don’t want my children to count on something that very well won’t be there for them unless I keep on him to continue the relationship.

None of us getting any younger, though, which has been made all too clear to me lately, as my hair gets grayer, as my age creeps along to that magic number. I know my parents are aging as well, that they have been this whole time, that the hourglass sands haven’t poised in midair for them any more than they have for me. I am so grateful that my mother has a solid relationship with both of my children.

Is that enough? Do they need their grandfather too?

I remember in elementary school when it was grandparents’ day and I had no one. When everyone else had some wizened old soul there for them, grinning ear to ear. I looked around and nothing — no one. I never wanted my children to feel that, to have that absence haunt them, and thankfully they’ve had both grandmothers. But they have no grandfather, not a real one anyway, not one who is there for them, who hands them toothpicks after lunch, who takes them to ballgames or lets them braid his hair.

And I have to admit to myself that I want that. But is it what’s best for them? Because my dad will never be that. He will never be the wizened old man who puts them on his shoulders and pretends he’s Santa Claus. He will never be the man who they can look up, who they can have those memories with. That’s just not him, and it never was, even with me. But can what he has to offer be enough?

To be brutally honest, I don’t know. I just don’t know. All I do know is that in moments like these, when I’ve heard his voice again after 6 months, I wish he could be all those things. I wish they could have a grandfather they would be proud of, who would be there for them.

Whose voice they would recognize on the telephone.

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