July 27, 2006

“…perhaps that all parents should merit some kind of respect, whether or not they have raised you to be the person that you are. I do not want or deserve your honor, but at least the respect that comes with my age. Without respect, we are just total strangers in the slow lane getting the finger as you speed on by.

Where do we go from here, I do not know, I only know that it will take some time to heal the wounds.”

The above was sent to me from my father in June of 2003, shortly after he had discovered my online journal and read an entry I had posted which contained unpleasant comments about his wife. We haven’t talked since.

My father and I have been estranged for most of my life. My parents divorced when I was very young, and he left our home town in Virginia for New Mexico, where he still lives today. Other than a few awkward phone calls and some wildly age-inappropriate gifts during holidays (in particular, I remember a jigsaw puzzle made up of maybe 5 large pieces; the picture was of a yellow duckling with the text “Have a Ducky Day!” curving overhead. It was the sort of thing you would give to a very small child or perhaps a mentally handicapped adult. I was in middle school at the time) we had virtually no contact while I was growing up.

In 1998 or so, I struck up a tentative email correspondence with him. As the months went by he wrote chatty letters on everyday topics; he gave me thrifty tips on household upkeep, he told me not to trade in my car but rather to “drive it until the wheels fall off”. When JB and I married in 2001, I invited my father and his wife – no small overture, as the wedding was tiny and intimate – and they attended.

In 2003 he came to our house in Bellevue with his wife, I’ll call her Sally, and stayed for a couple days. It was a stilted, uncomfortable visit. I didn’t speak much with my father in the wake of Sally, whose high-maintance behavior dominated their collective presence. She was picky, demanding, and overly reliant on my father, who catered to her every whim.

One evening I stayed up talking with her after my father and JB had gone to bed, and the conversation veered into the uncomfortable territory of religion. She was horrified to learn I was not a Christian, and her tone became zealous. Didn’t I feel the giant hole in my life, she asked. Didn’t I know there was something missing. She told me, you need to spend some quality time down on your knees.

Well. I was angry. I asked her how she dared to criticize my life. As a guest in my house, I said, my voice shaking. How dare you.

I don’t know if I would react the same way today. Maybe I would be more patient. Maybe I would be able to say something like, hey, you have your beliefs and I have mine. Let’s change the subject. Maybe. But at the time I was furious, I was filled with righteous indignation and disbelief. Her presence that weekend impacted my feelings toward my father; I saw him as a weak man who lived to shelter his wife from the smallest discomfort (on one occasion she covered her eyes and practically screamed in a restaurant when her salad arrived with olives – “What are those, get them off, get them OFF!” – and I watched with cranked eyebrows as he patiently picked them out for her).

I was disappointed the visit didn’t go better. I was still reeling from being accused of having a hole in my life, probably in part because I knew I did have a hole in my life, that hole was called alcoholism and getting down on my fucking knees wasn’t going to do a thing about it.

So I wrote about the visit on my journal. I wrote about the things Sally said and did, I wrote about the awkwardness with my father, I wrote that the only quality time I was going to spend on my knees was gardening or delivering blow jobs to my husband.

A few short days after his visit, my father googled the term “marionberry margarita” and found my journal. He read the one entry in my entire journaling history that guaranteed hurt feelings for him. He wrote me a scathing message full of anger and betrayal. I responded, in part:

“…there’s a REASON those words are in a diary and not being spoken to you. They are personal. They are uncensored. They are words recorded off the top of someone’s head, without going through the typical editing wringer we all apply in our daily lives. They are opinions and thoughts that may be in my mind one day, but not the next.

…I cannot say that the things I write in that diary are lies, or meant only to entertain others. Nothing I write there is meant to hurt anyone.”

He wrote:

“I realize that your diary is personal, but is it not posted on the internet for all to read? Do you not ask for comments or to be sent a latest issue? You lose the right to say that it is anonymous.”

and

“I do feel like we had a much better relationship at your wedding when I had all of about five minutes with you. And, just maybe we should have just stayed apart.”

Sally lost both her children when they were young adults, under separate but sudden and tragic circumstances. Her daughter had some sort of cardiac event in her late twenties and withered away in a nursing home for years in a vegetative state, until Sally chose to allow her to die. They stopped liquids and her daughter lived for days with Sally at her side, before finally, finally escaping her ruined body. She left behind two small children.

I am a parent now and I can begin to imagine the depth of Sally’s sorrow. What would losing Riley, now or later in life, do to my mind? Maybe I would become fragile, strangely dependent on my partner, easily upset by small things. Maybe I would rely on my spiritual faith to a point where it is threatening to me that other people don’t share my beliefs.

If I could go back in time and not post that entry. If I could have been more considerate in my assessment of her. But here we are. The words have been written, the damage has been done.

When I was in high school, I landed myself in the hospital as the result of a suicide attempt. My mother thought it was serious enough to let my father know. I don’t remember if she called him, or what he may have done afterwards, but I do remember the card I received in the mail shortly thereafter. The front showed a devil, a red cartoon guy with pitchfork and horns, and said “THANKS”. The inside read: “A HELL OF A LOT!” He added his own text, which I will paraphrase: “For all the cards and letters over the years, for all the phone calls…you think you can just watch MTV and hum your way through life, but you can’t.”

This he mailed to a miserable, fucked-up teenager who had just swallowed a fistful of pills and hacked open her wrist with a steak knife.

I am not blameless in this by any means. I should never have posted that journal entry, I could have been more apologetic in my response and maybe we’d be talking today. But while being Riley’s mother has wrought unexpected, amazing changes in my heart, made me a stronger, more generous person, on the subject of my father I have only grown more bitter.

“You were 4 years old and it broke my heart to leave you. But, I could not stay around. The commonweath of Virginia requires a 12 month separation before divorce is legal and final. New Mexico was where I needed to be to lick my wounds. Both of my parents were born here and it seem a natural place to go. It was my decision to move away.”

He left, and he didn’t come back, he didn’t really call or keep in touch. He left, and I don’t care how many wounds he had, I don’t give a shit about any of his pitiful little circumstances, the fact is that he left. When I think about that today it fills me with poison, because I look at Riley and my head simply doesn’t have room for the giant gaping question of how he could have left his own child. I hardly remembered him when I was growing up, he caused no pain to me back then, but now that I hold my own baby in my arms I am resentful. I am angry. I think, maybe I didn’t turn into the sort of person worth his effort to make a relationship with, but back then I was just a little kid, I was all promise and possibility.

While I recognize that journal entry was hurtful, he tossed our relationship aside so quickly as a result. He just…wrote me out of his life after that. I don’t even want Riley to know him, because Riley has no shortage of family members who love him and care for him and will always, always be there for him, no matter what.

Today my father either has no idea that Riley exists, or he sits back and silently reads about his only grandchild on this web page.

Every day with JB and Riley I get to see fatherhood at its most ideal, its most picture-perfect. I see a man who would never leave his child, no matter what happened in his marriage. I see a man whose values and strength and humor and presence will guide Riley throughout his life. I feel phenomenally lucky.

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Mama Ritchie
16 years ago

Motherhood does change us, doesn’t it? Suddenly, we see things through the eyes of a parent, and we can’t imagine that anyone would reject their own chlid. But when we parents have parents that have rejected us, well – it’s truly unforgivable. Sad. Man, great entry Sun.

fifi
fifi
16 years ago

Wow. Briefly- I think you are right to keep your father out of Riley’s life. You are blessed to have the family you have.

Whinger
16 years ago

Oh that’s hard. Just all around.
I’m so sorry.

Zoot
Zoot
16 years ago

I have re-typed this comment a million times because I can’t quite get the words to relay the thought. Damn English. I’ll just keep it short and sweet.

Thank you for sharing this entry. It moved me. Truly.

Leah
16 years ago

Clearly, he’s the one who’s missing out.

Danell
Danell
16 years ago

And JB and Riley are phenomenally lucky as well.

Lumpyheadsmom
16 years ago

I find it difficult to imagine a situation in which I could leave my child. As an adoptee, becoming a mother has brought my feelings on this into sharper relief. Was I tossed away like a dead plant? Was I sadly turned out like a untamed pet? Was I loved so much that my biological family thought I’d be better off without them?

My family knows more about my brother’s biological family, and it’s so hard for me to imagine how my brother’s biological mother must have felt. Her circumstances are so different from mine that I cannot fairly put myself in her place, but it breaks my heart to think of her.

I’m sorry you don’t have an ideal relationship with your dad, but it’s great you’re so fortunate with your own family, that you have a loving partner in this parenting adventure. Loved your last paragraph.

laura
16 years ago

I remember when all that happened, and how very sad you were. I’m glad that you are seeing it through different eyes now – with a little different perspective – and realize how different everything can be for your own child. All three of y’all are very, very fortunate.

angela
16 years ago

my BF’s father (well, step-cum-adoptive father, actually) lives on an island off the washington coast with his own private plane and airstrip. he has loads of cash and an enormous house and unfortunately, a religious zealot for a wife. BF and his brother are not christians. they rarely talk to their dad because they simply cannot deal with his wife. and while definitely he has the means to do so, he never, ever visits his kids and grandkids because he fears his wife’s disapproval. this is a choice he made. i don’t believe it is neither right nor wrong, it just is.

my relationship with my parents is tentative. i really believe that the scraps we retain are there only because i supress my feelings and make a strong effort to make nice. i don’t know why i do this. my life would be exponentionally easier if i just cut them off. my parents forfeited their associated rights and respect as parents a long time ago. but i still retain guilt over not taking an active role in building a relationship. i think it’s because perhaps i can be too objective at times. for all the shitty stunts they pulled, they had to have thought it was the best choice at the time. it’s easy to forget that one’s parents had lives before their kids, and perhaps in one of those millions of moments and experiences that we will never know of, lies the answer, the reason, the motivation as to why they made these choices.

i don’t think your father is a bad person. i think he just made choices. and honestly? you turned out awesome, so it seems it may have been the right choice.

p.s. – i probably would have kicked that woman out, had she started preaching to me in my own house. thank goodness that my family doesn’t push their religion on me.

Danielle
Danielle
16 years ago

Beautiful…I have a very similar situation where my father does not even know he has grandchildren, I feel bad for him sometimes, but then remind myself that if he were a better person, he would be in their lives. And you are right, its not like there aren’t handfuls of other people around our kids that shower them with love. They aren’t missing anything!

Chiara
16 years ago

I love you.

Your father is a sad asshole who does not deserve to know you or your family. I wish I could reach through the computer and throttle him myself for his needless, pointed cruelties to you. He may think that it’s somehow your fault that he sucks, but as we all know, suckery like that is of its own making and its own regard. I hope he is reading this site and understanding how amazing you are in every way, and how little any of that is due to him at all, is in fact DESPITE his efforts. There’s no excuse to leave your child; that knowledge that Riley’s given you will never be his.

Deanna
Deanna
16 years ago

I believe you will be a better parent to Riley having dealt with (dealing with) your father and and the wounds of your relationship with him. It hurts me so to know he sent that card to you–that’s a gesture of a mean person, not an adult, NOT a parent. I so enjoy watching Riley grow, so I have to say, corny as it sounds, that you are here and posting and sharing that delicious little boy with us.

Roseann
Roseann
16 years ago

Having my father reject my son is the reason I cut off all communication with him. I could have written this entire entry, except for the fact that my father died a year ago. He was a hate-filled, angry, bitter man, and he ruined most of my childhood.
It’s hard to realize that having them out of your life is better, but realizing how much better Riley will be without his influence, that is one of the best gifts you can ever give your son.

Mandy
Mandy
16 years ago

That was an amazing entry. I remember when you posted that entry about your father’s visit, and when you subsequently took it down after he found it. Certainly you had a choice of whether to post that entry in the first place, but he had just as much choice about how to react to it. For so many years while you were growing up he could imagine you in his mind, the way he thought or hoped you might have turned out; for many people, reality is just too…real. It’s not your fault, any of it.

Stephanie
16 years ago

Wow, that was incredibly moving and somehow therapeutic for me. I’ve lived that too – change the names, change the places, but I’ve lived that pain, anger and resentment. Your words seemed to come from the heart of me. Thanks for sharing such a personal experience.

M.A.
16 years ago

I just read the last paragraph and knew I’d have to save this for later — when I have sufficient kleenex. I love the way you make me emote.

Lisa V
16 years ago

My great-great grandmother had “Do unto your children as you wish your parents had done unto you” embroidered on a pillow. You are living proof she was right. Riley is a lucky boy.

Gertie
16 years ago

Damn, that hurt to read. People like our dads are utterly incapable of grasping the damage that their actions (and inactions) have inflicted upon their children. And then they have the audacity to expect forgiveness and respect!

Its only your kind heart that would ever entertain the idea of letting your son know his grandfather. But blood isn’t enough of a reason. Knowing what you do about him, if he was just some stranger– is he the kind of man you would want your son to meet? I don’t think so.

I think you have done a wonderful job of pulling yourself out from under a load of crap. You have won battles with your own demons and have managed to create a life that is good, and good for you. Riley is a lucky little boy.

Maia
Maia
16 years ago

What a powerful entry. Thanks for writing it. I don’t really know you or anything, but I’m glad you are as self-aware and emotionally… on the ball?… as you are. It sounds like it was a tough time all around, and it looks like you are dealing with it beautifully.

outfoxed
16 years ago

L:

I comment seldom on your site, but have read your ponderings since D-Land days.

This one was one of the more moving, and obviously difficult to write. I wanted to at least acknowledge that, and say how wonderful your words can be at times.

Take very good care of the life you have.

O-foxed.

Anna
Anna
16 years ago

I think you’re better off. I can’t fathom abandoning my child, and given those circumstances, you’d think it would be him working extra hard for a relationship with you. I would also think he’d understand that you might have a wee bit of anger left over from all those years.

You’re not alone. I have a similar non-relationship with my mom, we haven’t spoken since 1997. It’s hard, but not as hard as it was having a relationship with her.

niki p
niki p
16 years ago

My father has been in prison for the past 12 years and does not know either of my children. He is up for parole next month and I am excited and terrified by this. I love my father, I have missed him, what happened to him could happen to anyone but this does impact my children. I am a different person now, I am a mother first and formost. I was a daughter when my father went away and now the dynamic has changed. I know he will not respect that. I am so different.

Once again you have moved me to tears. There is no such thing as a functional family, we all have to make due with what is given to us. It’s not your fault, it’s not your fathers fault, it just is. You are who you are because of YOU! You made you the mother you are today, you made you the wife you are today. YOU.

You can’t change the past. I won’t say Riley is better off without his Grandfather but you are probably a more relaxed person because he and Sally aren’t in your life.

Great Entry Linda. I wish I could give you a hug. You aren’t alone out there. Now go give that boy a kiss for me!

Liz
Liz
16 years ago

My husband has no relationship with his biological father. The two men his mother has been married to are “Dad” (who raised him) and “Jim” (who donated the sperm). Throughout my pregnancy my husband worried that bad parenting was somehow hereditary and he would be a terrible father like his own. Of course, that hasn’t been the case. Sometimes I think that he considers what Jim would have done at every move, and then does the opposite of that.

While his childhood may have made him a less secure person sometimes I believe that it has reinforced his instincts as a father. He is amazing. And I know that he cannot fathom abandoning his family as his own father did.

JennB
16 years ago

I second everything that everyone wrote, above. There are people in your life for a reason: to teach you. You have learned these ugly lessons about human nature from your dad and perhaps someday you’ll want to try to reconnect, but I absolutely can NOT blame you if you choose not to. Your dad sounds a tad self-absorbed, and, not to make him a bad guy here (he’s already done that quite handily himself), but you make decisions in your life and have to live with them later – good bad or indifferent. Your choice is not only healthy for you, it serves your son well. And if someday he realizes that he has a grandson and he’s chosen to throw it all away, that is his problem

And I am so, so glad to hear that you have chosen someone 180 degrees different for your husband, mate and father of your child. What a wonderful reward – he is a happy, involved father. That’s the best thing of all. Congratulations.

Anna
16 years ago

Divided families are such a hard thing on so many levels. I think that you have made the right decision. Regardless of how your father reacted to your blog his past behaviour shows how unimportant family is to him. Yet its so easy to see that family is uber important to you and JB and thats something that you have created your self – with no help from your dad obviously.

Mimi
Mimi
16 years ago

that was a simply amazing entry. Thank you for being so open and honest and willing to let so many of us know were are not alone in being perceived a imperfect children by those who contributed some DNA. And thanks for reminding us that we can all rise above those perceptions. You do so beautifully and gracefully every day.

Sometimes having assholes in our lives allows us to understand unconditional love and deepens our ability to appreciate and enjoy the good life we build for ourselves.

Jenn
Jenn
16 years ago

WOW, what the fuck is up with people that can just leave their kids? I could have written this entry too, except that my dad lived about a half hour away and still barely bothered to acknowledge my existence more often than every few months. I used to understand better, that he was dealing with his own horrible childhood, and got married and had a child and ended up divorced by the time he was 22, and then went on to marry and divorce two successive women who were straight out of the Cinderella handbook for stepmonsters. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Now that I’m a mother and I look at my son, I realize that there’s just no excuse, ever, for abandoning your kid, and I’m angry all over again. And it is such a shame, for me and for him and for my son, that he won’t ever know his grandson because I think that could have been the thing that bridged the gap. He died in 1998. It really fucked with me on Father’s Day this year.

I did love what Cecily said on her daughter’s and husband’s first Father’s Day… http://zia.blogs.com/wastedbirthcontrol/2006/06/fathers_day.html
Between you and her, you’ve said it all about the guys we married. Cheers to us for getting over our daddy issues!

Lori
Lori
16 years ago

Chiara said:

Your father is a sad asshole who does not deserve to know you or your family. I wish I could reach through the computer and throttle him myself for his needless, pointed cruelties to you. He may think that it’s somehow your fault that he sucks, but as we all know, suckery like that is of its own making and its own regard. I hope he is reading this site and understanding how amazing you are in every way, and how little any of that is due to him at all, is in fact DESPITE his efforts. There’s no excuse to leave your child; that knowledge that Riley’s given you will never be his.

And, though I don’t know you for realz, I must wholeheartedly concur.

RiseyP
16 years ago

This is just a stunningly good piece of writing, and it shows an admirable amount of introspection and honesty.

What really impressed me was your willingness to try and see things through Sally’s eyes.

I feel sorry for the two of them (Sally and your Dad). And I’m amazed at your resilience, having grown up to be who you are despite your father’s inability to parent you.

Cheers to you!!

wealhtheow
16 years ago

I’m so sorry. I know you are making the right decision for Riley.

sooboo
sooboo
16 years ago

I’m sorry for what you have been through, you really got it together despite all that bs. You’re one strong lady. I always think with the parent/kid relationship, you reap what you sow. People who put nothing in, are being ridiculous if they expect anything back. Thanks so much for sharing.

Rae
Rae
16 years ago

*hugs* The hardest decision ever to make is that which hurts us the most. Been there, done that, burned the t-shirt. You’re a brave woman, and a kind one, Sundry. You deserve to be happy.

ls
ls
16 years ago

Writing has frequently landed me in some kind of trouble, from my mom reading my diary to losing a note in highschool and having it copied and passed around. My mom used to tell me that I shouldn’t write it down if I don’t want someone to read it–but I could never live with that. I imagine that you are the same, that writing it down is the way that you translate it from your own head to heart and back again. Above all else: know that writing that entry in 2003 was not the catalyst for the exit of your father. He was going to show his colors again, in one way or another.

Just my thoughts. :)

Jen
Jen
16 years ago

Four years ago, my father came to me and acknowledged what a bad dad he had been and I forgave him. Last Thursday, my dad passed away after a two year battle with prostate cancer.I feel very lucky to have made peace with him but am now left with my very own “Sally” to contend with and I feel your pain, Linda. Had my dad not come to me and asked me to forgive him, I would have left him to rot with the company of “Sally”. I think in another life, if the internet was just this great big high school, you and I would have been friends. Thanks for that entry.

Kungfukitten
16 years ago

Parental relationships are hard. It’s too bad he ran across that one post but you are totally allowed to have feelings, write about them and be angry, hurt, pissed, etc. Men seemed to be very threatened of our emotions and I don’t understand why. It’s your blog. Write what ever the hell you want to and we’ll continue to read and your family can choose not to read it. It’s that simple.

Stephanie
Stephanie
16 years ago

Respect is something you earn, not just get bestowed upon you by virtue of you having fertilized an egg. Odd that he’d expect “…that all parents should merit some kind of respect.” Of all the things your father deserves, respect is the last.

Like so many have said before me, you are so much better off not attempting to have a relationship with him.

And I absolutely guarantee he reads your blog. Hi, dad.

dina
dina
16 years ago

What wonderful writing. It was from the soul and you could see how far you have come in your journey to realize it was him and not you. At the end I wantedto say Bravo and give you a standing O. you are lucky you are blessed and most of all your son and child are lucky to have you for a wife and mother.

Jenny
Jenny
16 years ago

While I was reading this I started hoping that he reads this journal, that these great and powerful words are maybe going to shake his brains up a little.

Then I thought, oh I hope not. I seriously hope that he has not been reading and seen your son’s adorable pictures, or read about his growth and his (and your) accomplishments and never said a word to you. That STRANGERS have written you because of the things they learn about you on this site and he has not.

Because if that’s the case, you are better off without him.

Nikki
Nikki
16 years ago

I’ve written many times in my own diary about the struggles I still have with my bio-dad. It’s hard and heartbreaking, although I’ve gotten a better perspective as I’ve gotten older. There are lessons they’ve taught us—how NOT to parent our own children, how to cherish those we love and hold them closer in our lives, how to appreciate the good examples (like you do with your JB) that fall into our laps. That doesn’t take the sting away but it’s the optimistic outlook. Wonderfully eloquent post.

Lesley
Lesley
16 years ago

Praise be to God who invented the mighty and diverse Olive, especially the feta-stuffed ones at my local grocers. Only in heaven could these have been conceived.

My apologies for the length of this but your post touched a nerve.

I sympathize with you. Your dad sounds a lot like my dad; self-centred, insensitive, and full of excuses and rationalizations for why he couldn’t and didn’t behave like a father. I couldn’t imagine abandoning a child and being able to live with myself any more than I could imagine abandoning an animal. But there are people in this world who have compunctions I do not understand.

My dad walked out on his marriage and kids when we were still young without a word. I was seven. Worse, he left us with a very troubled and violent alcoholic who simply wasn’t capable of looking after herself, never mind us. We all left home before the age of sixteen. My boyfriend’s family ‘adopted’ me at fifteen and somehow managed to track down my father to tell him I’d left home. I didn’t ask them too, but I guess being normal people, they felt it was important to do this. My dad visited me for all of twenty minutes in his brand new car, gave me fifteen bucks and wished me good luck. He didn’t offer to keep in touch, he didn’t give me a phone number or an address. He was well to do, remarried with stepkids who went to my high school (I didn’t find this out until much later), and he didn’t want anything to do with me or my siblings.

The next time I saw him I was thirty years old. His wife had tracked me down and urged me to get in touch with him. She thought he could benefit emotionally from seeing his bio kids. So I gave it a shot, flew all the way across the country to pay him a visit. Eventually, all three kids were in touch with him and things were going well, or so I thought, until plans were made for all three of us kids to spend Christmas with him. Just before the holidays he wrote each of us a letter saying he didn’t want to stay in touch anymore, that it was “too much work.” My sister wrote a scathing reply but my brother and I just shrugged and moved on.

Two years ago my mother was dying from oral cancer and I moved home to care for her by myself with no help from my siblings. This was a painful and exhausting experience but it was also tremendously healing for both my mother and me. After mom’s funeral, my sister contacted my father, desperate to have a parent in her life. He responded and wrote to each of us saying he was sorry for everything and wanted to make up for the past. I was exhausted and depressed after my mom’s death and told him I wasn’t ready yet to make contact. He responded sympathetically and told me to take my time.

A month later I got in touch and we established a casual – polite, but reserved on my part – correspondence. True to form, he expressed very little interest in me, talked endlessly about himself, and thoughtlessly mocked my charity work (elephant rescue). I’d find myself on the phone (paying for the damn call) silently crying while he rattled on about himself and his good deeds.

One day I got up the courage to inquire about the past. I knew this would make or break the relationship but I was sick of horseshitting around with this stranger. I asked very carefully for some clarification and understanding about why he’d left us and what made him change his mind about reconciling.

His reply was stunning. He told me in no uncertain terms that I was not to ask about the past or ask any questions that made him uncomfortable. He said the only way he could make up for the past was by “doing away with myself” (nice inappropriate guilt-threat tactic, dad!). Flippantly he added “why don’t you get over the past and your bitterness and do something useful with yourself for the world?”

That last patronizing statement from this dead beat hunk of selfish shit infuriated me, especially as I’d just nursed my mother through a horrendous illness. That was the last fucking straw in a glass full of them.

My sister and brother continue to have contact, and I’m sure in their desperation for his affection they’ve agreed to all of his terms. My brother became a deadbeat dad himself but apparently since seeing my dad he’s changed his act a little. So I’m glad for him, but mostly I’m glad for the son he pretty much dumped. Let’s hope the chain stops here.

When I was a little girl missing my father I put him on a pedestal. I imagined he was a trapped prince who would one day rescue me. I blamed my mother for his leaving. She had ‘driven him away!’ I sneered at my mother’s judgement of his character. After all, she had “issues.” I told myself if I could only be prettier, brighter, better, he’d come for me. I bought all the lies little girls who are abandoned tell themselves. But I’m all grown up now and I know what’s true.

Kristin
16 years ago

This made me lose my shit.

In every way, Linda, he is missing out on so much. I am sad for you, but sad for him too, because I can’t believe he doesn’t realize this.

Sabine
16 years ago

Wow Sundry, that was a very powerful facet of your life you shared. I’ve been reading you for years, and you are the journalist who has always made me feel Honored to share in your life and your thoughts.

There is a movie that really touches upon the imperfect relationships that we often have with our fathers, and reminds me a little of your story. It is called Smoke Signals, and while not exactly being an easy film to watch, is quite touching and beautiful all the same.

Thank you for sharing Sundry, you really are a beautiful and bright shining light, and you have put together a splendid family that is rock-solid with love. I feel a little sorry for a man who would be so blind and empty as to miss out on being a part of a life and heart such as yours. It really is his loss.

miss noodle
16 years ago

Fuckin’ A, Sundry. What an amazing story. I have been chronicling some memories about my parents, their divorce and the circumstances that followed. It’s not exactly easy, reliving those times, but it does help to write about it and you’ve done so, beautifully. But the pain of reliving the memories via writing is tempered when you have a wealth of friends and readers who support you. So to that, I say thank you for sharing. Riley is one lucky kid and JB is one lucky man.

warcrygirl
16 years ago

My father was estranged from us when he and my mom divorced. He lived about 40 minutes from us and has lived in the same house (and has had the same phone number) since 1971. Mom made sure he stayed estranged from us for she believed that he was the ‘enemy’ and moved us every year without fail. I tried to make contact with him a few times in my 20’s but just gave up even though by then I was living about 5 minutes from him. I sent him a wedding invitation; it went unanswered (he claimed he never got it and didn’t know I was married until he saw my bridal portrait hanging on his father’s wall). Once my kids were born we finally connected and although he’s never met either of my children he has plenty of pictures of them. His father died last year and I haven’t heard a peep from him; not on any birthdays or holidays. I did forget Father’s Day last year (Sis did too) and we both apologized for it but I can’t help but think that we are drifting apart again.

I don’t know how I feel about this as my relationship with my mother is practically non-existant. I’m not sure what I would have done in your place with Zealot Sally; would I have told her to fuck off or just nodded, smiled and said “I’m sorry you feel that way”?

Lisa
Lisa
16 years ago

Very poignant entry. I, too am sorry for your loss. I am very lucky to have a father that’s always been around and would, even now that I am grown and 31 years old, would move heaven and earth for me if I asked him to. I wish that everyone could be as lucky as I am in that regard, but hopefully knowing that your father wasn’t there for you will just make the relationship Riley & JB have all the more precious.

Cynthea
Cynthea
16 years ago

Oh, sweetie.

My father is absent, too. Claims no responsibility for his absence. It’s hard to make someone understand what a dick they were back then when they don’t feel they are a dick currently.

L.
L.
16 years ago

Wow Linda, just wow. Amazing entry.
I too have an, um, difficult realtionship with my father and although I have no children of my own (yet?), I can imagine that having a child would only…I dunno…amplify (?) the bewilderment and hurt we feel as a result of the rejection from our absent parents. You are amazing and Riley a lucky, lucky boy. JB too.

Shelly
16 years ago

I think your choice is one that has been made with several years of consideration. Sometimes I think that people are too busy thinking about themselves to realize that others need them as well (In your case your father was an ass and was completely focused on himself). It’s a very respectable decision and a well thought out one as well. Your life is going to be wonderful without your father involved, because even if people are adults, does NOT mean they’ve earned respect of age. Maturity, Selflessness, Responsibility and Love are what earns the respect of age. I think this is a lovely entry, because it has the soul of truth and grown wisdom in it.

p.s.- Religion is a practice, faith is a belief. I personally have faith, I just don’t have religion, and it’s gotten me through life just peachy. :) So ROCK ON!

thejunebug
16 years ago

I had a father like JB. I was lucky.

Your father is the one who is missing out. Not Riley.

Jem
Jem
16 years ago

Wow. I never realised how much I related to you before! My father left when I was 7, he had an affair with my mums friend and left for her. They’re still together and she lost one of her children and her ex-husband in terrible accidents. I also had the suicide attempt but my Mum never told my Dad. Dad is still with the other lady, but they live a few hours away. I go stay with him sometimes, but I always feel really uncomfortable with her, she sometimes starts ranting about the stupidest things and blames them on me. I don’t really have anything to add but I guess I just wanted to relate. How could he choose another lady over his child? I’ll never do that to my child. Thanks for that Sundry. I’m glad things are so good for you now because you so deserve it.