Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What is it about the holidays?

That makes perfectly sane women crazy? So, I don't know how many of you out there read Post Secret but there was an entry on there this week that I have not been able to stop thinking about.

Except in my case it would be my father who chose his new wife and her children over me... And after 5 or 6 years of not speaking to this man I found myself on Google this afternoon looking for his name. He's still listed in the phone book in the town I thought he lived in last. And thanks to Google Maps Satellite I can see that he lives in a house on the edge of town with a large yard.

WHY do I do this to myself? The fact that we don't speak is my choice - was my decision. He tried to get into contact with me several years ago... And we traded a few tense e-mails and strained phone conversations. But he had to call me only from work because heaven forbid his wife know he was calling me long distance. And the man has had a sad life, seriously his family (I suppose theoretically they're MY family too huh?) has issues. And I feel badly for him... In that detached, abstract, tragedy strikes a stranger sort of way.

And yet... I used to be such a Daddy's girl. I loved spending summers with him. Even if the man had no clue and I sat in his apartment all day by myself watching TV while he worked. Even if all we ate was McDonald's and Campbell's Chucky Soup over rice. It was worth it for those few hours and days just to be with him. I would always board the plane to visit with eager anticipation and board the plane coming home overcome with tears and making myself physically ill with misery.

I feel guilty about that now. My mom is the best mother on the planet as far as I'm concerned. Despite a brief rough patch in high school she is one of my closest friends. My confidant. My biggest cheerleader. My rock. And my father? Turns out he's not great at it. The man can not be alone. Unfortunately I was the sacrifice that had to be made.

I remember my 8th grade graduation. My mom had let it slip that maybe, just maybe, my father was going to make it. He was planning on it she said. It had been 2 years since I had seen him. I sat up there on that stage anxiously watching the doors. I made it through my speech and still no sight of him. I made it through the accepting of the diploma with tears in my eyes. Afterwards I remember crying to my then boyfriend (now friend) how disappointed I was that he didn't make it.

I think there were a few sporadic phone calls through high school. Christmas. My birthday. And then he decides he's coming out for my high school graduation. First it was going to be a family trip - him, the wife and her daughter and son-in-law and her son. I was plainly not thrilled about this. The first time I'm seeing him in 6 years and I have to share him? He decided to come alone. Needless to say the trip was a disaster. We had nothing to say to each other. We were perfect strangers.

A couple years after that his father passed away (I don't think of him as grandfather - I never met him) and shortly there after one of his brothers passed away also. Apparently something like that triggers a sort of life re-evaluation. He remembered wait - I have a daughter - someone out there with half of my genetic make-up. But by then I was too angry, too bitter, too hurt to accept it. And it's difficult to grieve for people you don't know. Yet I felt like my father thought we should be grieving together for OUR family. Not quite...

So I cut ties. There have been two feeble attempts on his part and I've had to threaten my mother with bodily injury not to give out my phone numbers anymore. He keeps in touch with my mother. She was the love of his life he says. I don't ask. She doesn't volunteer information. And most days? This arrangement suits me just fine.

Until the holidays...


Anonymous said...

That's sad Tiff and I feel for you. I have kind of a similar situation with my dad. We barely have a relationship. When he first remarried, he cut me out of his life for two years. I resented his new family and how he was a better husband and father to them then he ever was to us.

We talk occassionally now and his is in my life, but I don't need him there. It's more out of familial obligation than anything else. And he is exactly the kind of man who can never be by himself. I'm expecting divorce #2 soon and he'll most definitely get remarried. He just can't take care of himself.

What can we do?

Tiffany said...

Off the subject I know, but if you want to change the background on myspace, I can send you the link via e-mail