In eight grade, the rings of my trapper keeper got a little wonky causing it not to close correctly. There was a girl sitting in front of me, Jennifer, and I asked for her help. After a few minutes, she turned around to pass my trapper keeper back to me and said, “ I couldn’t do it. Just ask your Dad to fix it when you get home. I didn’t have a Dad at home to ask but I replied, “Oh, yeah! I can ask him!” That exchange runs through my mind far too often.
I went to Connecticut, the summer between 5th and 6th grade, I spent the night with my Dad. As we were having breakfast, he asked “September 12th, right? That’s your birthday?” My birthday isn’t September 12th.
Speaking of summers, in 2005 after I received my report card in the mail I called him. I was officially a senior and beyond excited. So many expenses were coming up, but all I cared about was him coming to my graduation in June of 2006. He told me that he would be busy, and probably couldn’t get the time off work. He had a year to make plans, but he didn’t come.
When I taught preschool, on more occasions that I could count, I cried when my students’ dads would pick them up. It was sweet to witness but reminded me of something I never had.
So here we are, Father’s Day 2020 I thought today would feel differently and initially it did. But then, VH1 had the audacity to play that infamous “Fresh Prince” episode (we all know the one) and a flood of emotions started. The pain in Will’s voice when he asked, “How come he don’t want me man?” is a pain that resonated with me. To this day, I can’t watch that episode without balling my eyes out. After years of rejection, I got to the point where I was tired of reaching out, trying to make amends and extend olive branches. I was the child, this shouldn’t have been my responsibility. I still don’t know why he chose to be an absent parent to me but a present one for my sister. I do know, that even in his absence, I lived a good life thanks to my mother.
This isn’t a post meant to bash men, though let’s be clear, if I wanted to that’s my business. Rather, a moment of transparency to serve two purposes:
First, to let all the fatherless girls around the world, that you’re loved and whatever feelings you have today, are more than valid. I hope that you find both peace and healing because you deserve that.
And secondly, to let the men know that you are needed. Your love, your guidance, your support, and your pleasant memories are needed by your children. Don’t let anything or anyone else tell you otherwise.
This was a long introduction, but I wanted to share two previous posts written about my father, below.
Sending love and light.
Never Been A Daddy’s Girl
I waited for you. All day. I wore jeans and a white shirt. And I waited for you. I remember being so excited! Yes, FINALLY…I would get to see you.I sat on the front stoop of our apartment; And I waited for you. My friends kept urging me to come and play. But I wouldn’t leave that stoop. I sat there. All day. Lighting up like a kid on Christmas with each car that passed by. And the sun began to fall from the sky. Still I waited for you with a smile.Hot, hungry and sweaty…but I didn’t budge. All. Damn. Day. I waited for you.But you never showed. And you never called to say why. That was the first time I recall being let down by a man. You were supposed to love me. And show me how to protect myself; from sorry, lowdown, no good, trifling ass men like you. So I stopped waiting. I stopped caring. I stopped wanting to be close to you. And I had no idea what the side-effects of you would be in my life. So here’s to you…Dad. Here’s to you. For breaking my heart; before any guy ever could.
Grieving A Stranger
Like so many girls, my first heartbreak came from my father. The man who was supposed to love, protect, support and guide me throughout my life. The man who was supposed to be there for my chorus recitals, poetry readings, and cheering me on as the best damn performance of Jack’s Wife in Wintergreens Elementary’s three night showing of Jack and The Beanstalk. Most of the times I referred to him as my sperm donor because he didn’t seem worthy of any other title. We were flesh and blood strangers, sadly. I had reached a point in my life where I was simply tired of trying, ya know? Reject me once, cool but to do so over and over was something that I just couldn’t tolerate any longer. For my sanity, I withdrew and carried on with my life. And though I deemed myself as “content” without him, it was a lie. I needed and wanted my father. I needed his love.
My favorite part about being a teacher was Daddy Days. Those were the days when Dad would oversee picking up the little ones. To see the look of joy, I mean unadulterated joy when Dad walked into the classroom was priceless. And on more than one occasion, I shed a tear because it was a reminder of something I didn’t have. My grandfather was monumental in my life but it wasn’t the same. Father’s Day was something I looked forward to but hated simultaneously. So many people had excellent fathers so I loved seeing their happiness but at the same time, it saddened me that I couldn’t take part in the celebrations. It had become my prayer that God would bless me with a husband that had an amazing relationship with his father so that I can share in some of that. And of course, I hoped and prayed that I would be able to shield my future kids, my daughter(s) especially from that same kind of void.
November 2016, while scrolling social media there was a photograph captioned “I’m going to miss these moments” Wait, what do you mean? Was someone moving away? No, someone had died. Yeah, I found out through Snap chat that my Dad had died. Classy, eh? I jogged that night-no really, I did. Each time my foot hit the cement, the tears fell even heavier until I couldn’t see a thing. My glasses were foggy, I’m panting and heaving—just completely unprepared for this impromptu run to process my emotions. There was probably some snot too. Anger, fear, anxiety, disbelief, hurt, you name it, I felt it. Every single chance at reconciliation was gone. What if I had tried one last time? I should have just messaged him on Facebook. Did he regret anything? Truthfully, I had no intentions of going to the funeral. Why the hell was I going to miss work, and travel from Florida to Connecticut for him? But being the true saint that she is, my mother suggested that I go for the closure if nothing else.Needless to say, overwhelmed was an appropriate feeling. From meeting with the funeral directors and seeing his corpse to the actual service and sleeping in his home, everything about that experience was surreal. Everything I ever wanted to know about him, I learned while packing up the remains of his possessions. We were so much alike, he and I. We both doodle while on the phone which included jotting down bits and pieces of the phone conversation and the response that we would want to give. We have the same tastes in movies. Food—not so much. He was a real country boy so I’ll pass on the backwoods cuisine but fishing was another common ground. People spoke so highly of him and his big heart with a strong work ethic. I’ll have to give him credit for those traits as well as my mom. But more importantly, my question was finally answered- yes, he did love me. I wondered that for 28 years. For 28 years, I thought he couldn’t possibly care but I was wrong. That was such a defining moment. I don’t know his reasons for choosing to be an absent parent but the past can’t be changed. Sarah Jakes Roberts shared a post, stating that “Closure is not a moment between two people. It’s demanding yourself to stop reliving your history and let go of what-ifs. It’s embracing that every ounce of pain you experienced was necessary for your growth, peace and joy. It is a reconciliation with one’s self.” I firmly believe that. So, when we buried him, I didn’t bury a stranger, I buried my dad. I buried my father, along with my insecurities and resentment. I buried every ounce of doubt and piece of negativity that came along with the memories we formerly shared. I forgave him and I received the closure that I needed.