Sometimes I feel completely justified in not talking to my father. Other times I feel like the dead-beat. I just find it extremely hard to pursue any sort of extensive relationship with him, or to find a happy medium with what we do have.
What's the problem with this man, you ask? Well, let's see. What haven't I mentioned before? Could it be his relentless dedication to alcohol, rather than his family? Or perhaps that, when he's not being an alcoholic, he's being a workaholic? Maybe that he's just never really been there? Take your pick.
My favorite was his decision to let eight years go by without being my dad. I was eight when he helped move my Mom and I to Florida. They'd been divorced since I was two, and my Mom and I lived in Kentucky. My Dad lived not too far away in Indiana. We'll ease past the part where my little girl self thought he was going to stay with us in Florida, and right into the part where he leaves, and I don't see or hardly hear from him for eight years.
I'd get a birthday card for the next two or three years, but then nothing. He stopped calling. He never wrote. He was just gone. Disappeared into that black hole that is Indiana. I thought he was dead. I think that's what my Mom was hoping for anyway.
When I was sixteen I got a phone call from him. And that's where we picked up. Him calling drunk to tell me he loves me and he's sorry-asking me to come live with him. This nice sad man. This stranger. Ugh. I was seriously the ONE teenager on the planet without drama, and here we go.
So, I visited him a time or two. Flew to Indiana. Went to dinner or a movie with him. I uncomfortably let him hug me and touch my hair. I let him pretend to be my father again. I let him try to make up for some of that lost time, but we had nothing to talk about. We were strangers.
Five years later I let him give me away at my wedding. Knowing full well that I was never his to begin with. But it made him happy. Even though he had to drink to get through it, I'm glad I involved him. He's not a bad man. He's just...Dusty.
In his defense, he's had it rough. Really rough.
His Mom died in a car wreck when he was 15 or 16. She was decapitated. Not to mention that she had tried to take her own like a few times prior to that(aspirin and whiskey), and Dad was always the one to put her back together again. She was full blooded Cherokee. Lesson learned? Indians and alcohol don't mix.
His father was around just enough to teach him how to never take responsibility for his actions. Whenever Dad got into trouble, Grandpa bought his way out of it. And nobody wanted to mess with him. He was a 6'7" drunk-enough-to-stay-numb Norwegian. Lesson learned? Vikings and alcohol don't mix. Well...they do, but it usually ends in raiding and plundering.
So, September 6th is my Dad's birthday. I always dread calling, because I just know he'll be sloshed. I mean, if he's not working, he's more often than not walking around in a depressed, drunken stupor. There's not much in this world that I loathe more than talking to a depressed drunk.
Not so this year! I called. He wasn't exactly chipper, but he was sober. I sang happy birthday to him, and we shot the breeze for a while. He thinks I'm the best thing since sliced bread, which can be nice. Refreshing even. I made his day, and he made mine.
The thing I really hate is that I wish I could let him be dependent. I wish I could fix him. I wish I could feel like I didn't get jilted growing up. I wish I didn't blame him for all the crap that happened to me while he wasn't there. I wish I didn't feel selfish for not wanting to talk to him now, when I have the opportunity. I wish I could just be thankful for one good conversation, and not focus on how it all could have been that way.
P.S. It amazes me that I don't send you all screaming into the night with my hum-drum posts. For an otherwise happy gal, I find that this has become more of a ranting spot, as of late. All apologies.