My eighteenth birthday was the last time I saw my father. He has tried to reconnect over the years, usually when he has found a new girlfriend. I think it has something to do with him trying to prove that he is not as screwed up as he may seem if he does not even talk to his own kids anymore. Whatever the reason I resist because of the last time I saw him, so let me back up a bit.
Dad and mom began the divorce process back when I was still in high school–senior year. It promised to be the best year of high school, but for my twin and I it proved to be bitter-sweet because of the divorce.
I knew my dad had cheated on my mom, so it should come as no surprise that I did not exactly hold him in high regard. But that part of it was not the worst of it. What I saw this whole process do to my mom was the most devastating. She loved this man blindly, without really asking for much in return; what she received in return came in the form of bruises both literal and figurative–I remember the time she just had surgery to get her gall bladder removed and in a blind rage for God knows what, he pinned her down with her legs pressing hard against her chest. She screamed for mercy that he would not give and I lacked the courage to do anything because at this point, around fourteen years old, I did truly fear my father.
So now, if mercy is asked of me, mercy for my father, it is not something that I give away without some inkling of remorse in return, some vestigial feeling of regret or sorrow for the horrible things that man wrought upon a family and a wife he supposedly loved.
But back to the last day I saw him. He did not want to stop by at first. My mom had told him that he didn’t have to but that it was our eighteenth birthday afterall. So in an act of such depth of feeling and kindness, he spared a moment to throw his children a bone. And that is what it felt like. As he quickly pulled up the driveway in his white Trans Am with radio blasting, he stared me down with white hot anger in his eyes. My twin brother, David, was off somewhere with friends. As he stepped out of the car, I could feel the immediate desire for him to escape, to go away and do whatever thing else he felt was more worthy of his time. Hurriedly he threw the birthday cards into my hands.
“Happy birthday,” he squirted out in haste, placing his sunglasses gently on his face. At this point, I could feel my blood beginning to boil; it began in my mind but quickly found its way to my heart and once it did I could not control it.
“Fuck you! How fucking dare you! It’s my birthday. If you have something so important to do get the fuck out of here! Take this card with you, you fuck!” and the card hit him hard in the chest.
“Okay, that’s the way it’s gonna be. Make sure David gets his card.”
“Yeah, sure. Whatever.” And as he drove away I flipped him off. Now at this time, I was a good Christian boy. I had never cussed out anyone before. Maybe no one deserved it like this before. At least I felt he deserved it, still do.
I don’t know if there is a lesson here, but every time I see a show that reunites a father and a son after a big fight of some kind, I think to myself, “Bullshit.” Not for the people in the movie or that this cannot happen or that it is not great when it does, but for me, not a day goes by when I regret that this was the last time I saw my dad. Maybe someday he will finally come around to express his heart felt apology. Maybe he will finally understand what he did and have some kind of remorse or human emotion of decency instead of stubborness. But until that day comes when he can acknowledge wrong-doing and see past himself and his own selfish desire, I will be perfectly fine going to my grave or seeing him in his knowing that there will be no reconciliation.