Father Of Mine, Tell Me Where Have You Been.

I had to pull the car over twice. Driving to meet my father, I didn’t know if I would punch him, hug him or shake his hand. Either way, I knew I was about to have one of the most difficult, if not awkward, encounters of my life.

Until I was 22, I had only two flash memories of my father. One, I was about six years old and he picked me up in a yellow car, to go get ice cream. The other was watching him play his guitar. Other than that, what I knew of him was what the adults in my life spoke of him, which was hardly ever. If he was mentioned, it was never in a pleasant light.

In 2002, my sister and I started talking about locating him. It was quite a shock when she called me at college and said, “I just found dad.” She paid $10 to one of those find-someone websites and within ten minutes, had his address and phone number. I knew I couldn’t be the one to call him. My sister is 12 years older than I am and actually had somewhat of a relationship with our father when she was young. She would have to take the reigns on this one.

Fast forward months later and my dad flew to NY to visit us. He was staying at my sister’s house. I came home from college that weekend and drove up to her house to, what felt like, meet him for the first time.

I walked in my sister’s house and he stood up. I looked at him – a worn, tired body, and eyes that seemed to harbor both a joy for the moment and a sadness for the past. I hugged him but if I’m being honest, it was more for him. I wanted nothing more than to turn around and walk away from this too-late reunion. I wasn’t really mad, I just felt like I didn’t need this.

As the evening went on, we sat on my sister’s porch and talked for hours. We talked about my life, my sister’s life and what went wrong all those years ago. We talked about my mom passing back in ’97 and how heart breaking her loss is for all three of us. Until my sister contacted my father, he had not known Mom had died.

My parents had a complicated and difficult life together. They were very young when they started having children. My Mom was only 15 and my dad wasn’t much older. Add drugs, alcohol and mental illness to the mix and it became a very broken attempt to raise a family. They separated before I was old enough to even retain a memory of them being together. Both of my parents walked away from parenting at some point.

Being ten, twelve and fourteen years younger than my siblings, I’ve always relied on them to fill in the gaps for me. If it wasn’t for them all stepping up, helping to raise me in their own way, things would look very different for me right now.

Like I am with my Mother about all this, I’m not mad at my father. I guess I just accept things for what they were and what they are now. I can’t imagine making the choices that they made, but I’m not them. It makes me sad actually, to look at my kids and to think about all that my father missed out on with me. I’d like to say I’m sad for myself, missing out on having a father in my life, but I won’t – or perhaps I can’t. It’s hard to miss what you’ve never known.

Since our “first” visit, I’ve seen my dad on just a few more occasions. We call each other on holidays and follow each other along on Facebook. I don’t talk to my dad as much as I should. His absence was so present for me for such a long time that I tend to forget he is only a phone call away.

dadEven though distance, both physical and emotional, prevent us from forming a strong father-daughter bond, I’m grateful to have connected with the man that helped bring me in to this world. Despite the history that got us where we are today, I’m grateful for the survivor’s heart my father passed on to me. Without that, I never would have been brave enough to finish the drive to meet him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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33 thoughts on “Father Of Mine, Tell Me Where Have You Been.

  1. I am glad you were able to reach out and establish some sort of relationship that works for you now. ((hugs))

  2. Wow. I think you have a great mind-set about your situation with your dad, though I’m sure it has been and is an ongoing process. I commend you. My situation with my own parents is different but also complicated, and I still find myself struggling at times with accepting things for what they are. This is truly a beautiful tribute.

  3. I can imagine this whole relationship is a work in progress. As you say, somedays it is okay and other days less so.
    I do think it is a good thing that you have reconciled. for both of your sakes. I wonder in time will the relationship move on or remain static.

  4. This was some very powerful writing in a very minimalistic way which actually made it all the more potent. I salute your steadfast processing of all of this. Please do some updating posts as things proceed.

    • I’m sure there will be more to come. This is a relationship that I have no idea where it’s headed, or if it will move at all. Thank you so much for reading and the kind words.

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  6. While you may have missed out on a past with your father, the important thing is you have a future. Good story. Very brave and compassionate woman you are. Your siblings did a good job filling in the gaps.

    • I don’t know where I would be with out them. Many mistakes were made along the way but I know they did the best they could. I’m lucky enough to still have one sister in my life. She’s my rock…and is kind of my bridge to our dad. Again…very complicated.

  7. That is a really amazing story. You’ve captured so many complicated feelings here- so glad you linked up and shared with us!

  8. I’m grateful for the survivor’s heart my father passed on to me.

    Yep. I would be grateful for the same reason. Good that you are trying to mend the relationship with you Dad. It sounds tough, but you obviously see the value in it…..

  9. Wow. So hard. I love that you seem to have found peace with your complicated relationship with your dad – at least it seems so although obviously it’s still very complicated for all of you. I met my biological mother and 1/2 bio sister for the first time a few years ago. While it’s not really the same, I have many similar complicated feelings. Great post.

    • Thank you. I’m content with the relationship we have now. But that in itself makes me kind of sad. In a should I try harder kind of way. Its so very complicated.

  10. This is brave and honest and more than I was capable of this week. I was sad reading this and it was partially for myself. My father was never a stable presence in my life and I could relate so much to the feelings you describe here. Thank you for writing honestly and from the heart. xo

    • Thank you so much for the kind words Katia. Not having my dad around was never really something that bothered me, until I had my own kids. Now I understand the significance his absence had and continues to have in my life. I just don’t get how anyone would walk away from their kids…but again…I’m not him. I was so happy to read your post actually. It was a nice break from the mushy “my dad is the best” posts. I only hate them because I’m jealous. Yours made me laugh… and that is what I needed 🙂

  11. You are a good story teller. This must have been a hard one to tell… but then again, maybe not. I like that you understand… shit happens… not an excuse, just life. Looks like your dad lives on a boat.

    At any rate, tomorrow kiss your older sister and wish her ‘Happy Father’s Day’. I’m glad for you that your children have such a great dad in their lives… you too.

    • I love what you said about my older sister. I’ve always seen her as stepping in to a mother’s role for me but never considered she had to fill in for my dad too. I am definitely planning to call her and tell her thank you tomorrow…so thanks for that.

      And thanks for the compliment. It’s so nice to hear that. This was a hard one to finish actually. Being that this is relationship is a work in progress, I couldn’t figure out how to pull it all together for the longest time. Or perhaps that was just my emotions getting in the way.

      My dad is a marine merchant. It’s funny the picture gave you the impression that he lives on a boat because he has for most of his life.

      • I could tell he wasn’t just some guy on his weekend boat.

        I do not know you, although I get a feeling for people, so I would not dare to give advice. But I will. Of course some feelings can never change… but, maybe there is a little room for some different ones… It would be a shame to not have some nice future relations of some kind.

      • p.s. send him a link to your blog. Some things may be hard to read, but I think he will understand. And he will get to know you and your family, and I think he will be proud of you. There is nothing like having pride in your children as you will learn. Does he deserve it, maybe not… but that’s not the point.

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