The last time I saw my father he was getting a taxi to pick up his car from one of numerous impound lots. He offered to give me a ride there, but that wasn’t my destination.
That was six years ago.
I’ve talked to him several times on the phone since then, mostly because I called him. He claims he will come up at some point when everything calms down… if he’s at least somewhere in a few hundred mile radius for some other purpose. It’s important to package these trips together, as you know. I am not holding my breath.
It’s complicated, how we are, but I’m sure it’s no different from so many stories out there. It might not be too different from your own story. He wasn’t there for me when I needed him most, and now that I’m older and a father myself I’m still trying to deal with why he wasn’t there. I’m not even sure where I stand at this moment on how far I should go to have some kind of relationship with him at this point.
The last time we spoke was last Father’s Day. He sent me a text that ended with an exclamation point, but I couldn’t imagine him exclaiming it aloud. I’m sure he would have left it there, like so many words are left these days, via digital means, but I called him in lieu of sending a virtual reply, swept up in an anger that could have been all-consuming if I let it simmer. So, I called him back, and he was shocked to hear my voice, and I wished him a Happy Father’s Day, but my tone rang hollow even to my ears.
He said he was glad I called, but he didn’t sound like it. He sounded like he had better things to do, and I guess I don’t blame him, at least on that day. Maybe he was sending out many texts that day, or spending time with one of his other children. I don’t know, because we didn’t really talk.
You know how it is, when you’re supposed to say somewhat but you don’t even know how or where to begin? That has been every conversation between us since the 1990’s. We sit there, usually with static on the line, waiting for a response to something never said. No wonder we don’t have real conversations.
But I still care. Maybe it’s for him. Maybe it’s just for the relationship I know we could have had, for the one I’m still mourning some twenty-five years later. Maybe I’m just hanging on to a nostalgia that isn’t real, to a man who never was the man I always hoped he’d be. Maybe I just want to keep in touch to remind myself of the father I want to always be, the kind whose children won’t say I wasn’t there for them, whose children won’t say they never had a real conversation with, whose children will be proud to say I am their dad.
By the way, I know he got his car back without too much trouble. Maybe a little complaining, and a lot of money, but he was on the road again, and I haven’t seen him since. It’s easy to say it’s on me too now. After all, we are both adults, but in this case it’s not on me. I’m here for him when he wants to try and repair a relationship, but one Sabbath lunch in twenty-five years isn’t going to do it.
Maybe it is too late for us, but no one told my heart.