As much as I try to avoid the book section in Target, it’s inevitable that I’ll end up there. I mean really, who can step foot in that place without making the rounds? A few years ago, around Father’s Day, I found a book about fathers and daughters and it crushed me.
I guess at the time my dad and I were going through yet another rough patch and I was feeling extra sensitive to the notion that there are actually good fathers out there that have strong bonds with their daughters. Bitterly, I called my mom and joked about how awful of a book it was and probably mentioned something about buying and devouring three coffee cakes.
There was a time when I stood by the living room window eagerly watching for his truck to turn onto the street. There were times when I would take one of his t-shirts back home with me just so I wouldn’t miss him so much. And there were even times when I camped out under the dining room table just to be close to the phone when he called before bed every night.
In my adolescent eyes, my dad was the good guy. He was worth missing. But as I got older I discovered that he’s not a very good person. I have a hard time saying that because I want so badly to believe that there’s some good in him, and maybe there is. But right now? Right now he’s an abusive alcoholic with the maturity of a 16-year-old.
I haven’t acknowledged Father’s Day for about 12 years. So when I told him I was going to a barbecue with my mom’s side of the family this weekend, and he asked me if we were celebrating Father’s Day, I honestly didn’t know how to answer. The truth is, yes, we are celebrating Father’s Day because there are some amazing dads in my life, even if they’re not biologically mine.
But my dad doesn’t know that. Ignoring the holiday was kind of an unspoken rule for both of us. We just didn’t talk about it. In fact, we don’t talk about much. So he caught me off guard by asking about it. Does he wish I would drive out to the burbs to barbecue with him? I don’t know. And honestly, I don’t think that I would. And that makes me feel like a jerk.
Because even after losing our home, abusing the women in his life, and all the lying, stealing, and betrayal, I can’t bring myself to give up on him. Whether I like it or not he’s my dad. And every year I hope that Father’s Day will come and go quickly and quietly so I don’t have to deal with the guilt of not wanting to let my dad into my life.
It’s just better this way. He needs me more than I need him, and this arrangement makes it so I can give him just enough without getting used.