The holidays are supposed to be all about family and forgiveness. Or at least that’s what all the Hallmark cards say. If there was ever a certain time of year to “bury the hatchet”, that time of year would be Christmas. Most of you who read my blog know that I have never, ever talked about my father. There’s a very good reason for that, he was never really a part of my life. I doubt he ever will be.
Every year around this time, I start to think I should pick up the phone or send an email. Then my better judgment over rules my sentimental side and tells me, “You know better”. I do know better. I know better than to fling myself where I’m not wanted. I have better things to do than to feel like an imposition again.
I was an adult (in theory) when I met my father. I had never asked about him before. I knew his name that was about it. In those days, a name really didn’t do me any good. It wasn’t like I could Google him and find out his whole life story. I waited until then and asked my mother to arrange a meeting with him. I never knew she had always kept in contact with him. Over the years, she would update him on my various accomplishments, first honors, first violin, and acceptance to a good college. All these things he was aware of and I had no idea if he was even alive. I never got a card or gifts for Christmas or birthdays. I went on with life. I had a mom, she gave me everything I needed. I had a family, I was fine.
Then at 21, I had decided it was time. I wanted my father to come to my college graduation. I met him briefly, we sat and talked. He agreed that he would come, he would be in town anyway for another function that very same weekend. He wouldn’t have to go out of his way and yet he never showed. I agreed with my mother that some people don’t change and I let our communication fall by the wayside.
That was fine by me and I went on with my life. It wasn’t until after my mother died and I was pregnant with my daughter, did I reach out to him again. My thinking was that my daughter deserved a grandparent. She deserved to have that relationship with him and that wasn’t mine to take away. I have to give him credit, he was there when my daughter was born. He made all sorts of promises to visit more often and to be there for her because my mom couldn’t be. He came down as much as he said he could and he was there again when my boys were born. I got divorced, he disappeared. The boys are now 3 and he hasn’t seen them since they were 6 months old. None of them would know him now and I stopped pushing.
I stopped pushing because they had their paternal grandmother until she passed away, they also have their step-grandparents, who are awesome and treat them as their own. They don’t need to have a relationship with someone who doesn’t put any value on his relationship with them. For if he did, it wouldn’t matter what our relationship was he would come and see his grandchildren. He would do it for the kids much like divorced parents do. If it were me, that’s would I would do, in the hopes that through my grandchildren I would get a glimpse of what I missed in raising my own child. He doesn’t see it that way and I’m tired of forcing the horse to drink.
My husband has never met my father, although he would like to someday, I hope he never does. One of the great things about my husband is that he has helped me see the other side of the coin. The perspective of the Dad who won’t or can’t be involved in his child’s life. He carries the guilt and the pain of not being able to see his child as much as he would like because of their divorce. It’s because I see this in my husband that I was able to forgive my own father for the things that happened before I became an adult. Things in the 70s were a lot different from they are now, he really didn’t have any choice in the matter. BUT, I’m an adult now. The only thing stopping him, is him. On the flip side, I have helped my husband. If there’s anyone who knows what it’s like to live without a father in your life, it’s me. In those times when he feels like his child will be screwed up forever, I reassure him. I grew up perfectly fine without a dad in my life. I never considered my life lacking in anything, I doubt his child does either. This is just the way it is. Some things that happen in childhood can’t be helped but if you get the chance to be a part of your child’s life when they are adults you should take it. Whatever went on between my father and mother doesn’t concern me and it wasn’t my fault. She’s no longer here to dispute anything anyway. Leave the past in the past where it belongs because as I always say, life is incredibly short.