It’s Father’s Day! Not that it’s terribly important to me, actually it’s still not important at all. Growing up without a father makes you oblivious to this holiday, the only reason that I’m aware of it now is because my boyfriend is out spending the day with his dad and the constant postings on facebook, seems like that they all have the “best” dad. I don’t say that in a sarcastic way, even if sometimes I am a little bitter at not having had one.
When I was little, the impact of not having a father wasn’t obvious. I knew he wasn’t there but the lack of his presence didn’t affect me in the same way it probably did my brothers and sisters. My father walked out on us when I was about 3, I have very few memories of him being around. The only faint memories I have of him, at least while he was living with us, is of him building a bathroom for our house and that’s as far as I can reach. We did, however, see him from time to time whenever we visited my Grandma’s house. So even despite his abandonment he still had a small role in our lives but it was always tough for me to see him as my dad.
I’m not so sure that as I child I knew what hate was but I swear I hated him and hated whenever he was around. I, especially, hated that he had the audacity to expect us….or me to still call him dad, as if he deserved the title. My family would always try to get me to call him Apa and I never wanted to budge so my compromise was to call him my ex-papa. I felt it a more appropriate title, I don’t know that he was ever truly hurt by it. At times, he would give us money to go to the corner store and buy snacks, when I was older I began to suspect that he did it as a means of trying to lessen his guilt but I couldn’t be sure that he ever truly felt guilty. After all, this was the same man who when he walked out on his family of five said that he didn’t need us, that he could have more kids. We were expendable.
I hated him. Not because he abandoned us, not because he was the macho type of man I loathed, nor that he forgot our birthday’s, or that he left my mom to fend for us all by herself but because despite all of that a part of me still wanted him to want to be my father. To want to get to know us, to say that he was sorry for leaving us and all the terrible things he did to my mom and siblings. I still wanted to know what it was like to have a real caring father, but I think I hated myself more for that.
Shortly after I graduated from high school, he was severely beaten up and was hospitalized because of it. At that time, I was going through a tough time and was annoyed to have to drive down to visit him when he was never there for us. I didn’t think he deserved the gesture. But I had no choice, so when we made it there I was expecting him to be his usual self and was prepared to put him in his place but something about seeing his heavily bruised face and bandaged head all I could do was pity him. Normally, he’s not soft but something about him was different. Somewhere in that short visit, he slipped and actually told me he was proud of me for graduating, for not being subservient, for being me. I was speechless but I was even more surprised at how mad I was at him for saying this.
When we drove home, I kept thinking that maybe it was time to bury the hatchet and finally talk to him and get everything out in the open. I didn’t want to leave things left unsaid or unanswered, I didn’t want history repeating itself. I decided that it was time to have that talk with him, even if it hurt me. But I never got the chance because two months later he died.
At his funeral, I shed very few tears and those were only reserved for my brothers and sisters. I always felt I had it easy because he didn’t get the chance to hurt me as much as he hurt them when he walked out on us. But I was hurting, even more so than ever even if I didn’t want to admit it. Again, he had abandoned us, but this time for good and with his death he took the closure I will never be able to get.
I will say, that this day should truly be dedicated to my Mother. She may have made plenty of mistakes along the way but she was resilient and did as much as she could for us. I don’t think I could have had her upbringing and have been as great as a mother as she has been. I wish that I could give her the life that she deserves but I’ll be damned if I don’t try.