I received several birthday cards in the mail on my birthday, including one from my father and one from my grandmother on my father’s side of the family, my only living grandparent. I excitedly opened all my cards, except for those from my dad and grandma. Odd right? When Eric arrived home from work he brought the cards from the kitchen counter into the living room for me to open, probably assuming I just hadn’t made the time yet. That was not the case.
I’ve never been close with my father or his side of the family. Growing up I don’t recall my dad being very involved in my life. He was present, as in, existed in our home, sat at the dinner table with us, but didn’t truly participate in our family, from my recollection. He didn’t attend school functions, in fact, at church each Sunday it was just me, my mom, and sister. From my view, he provided income, but not much more. I don’t remember witnessing a true bond between my parents much less affection. My father did walk me down the aisle at my first wedding, but looking back, I now realize that was for show.
My parents divorced around the time I started high school, I think. Gosh, seems like so long ago… I don’t know the stipulations of the divorce, but I do remember having dinner from time to time with my dad. Those dinners were my sister’s and my choice, but yet I felt an obligation to attend, as if I had to please my father, and grandmother, who sometimes tagged along.
I haven’t spoken to my father or grandmother since last summer. I didn’t see them on Thanksgiving or Christmas. And I’m sad to admit, I haven’t missed them. They send Christmas and birthday cards, but those are usually filled with snide comments, like, ‘it sure would be nice to talk from time to time.’ These comments are the very reason I avoided opening their cards, I figured something similar would be inside.
I’m not sure how to accurately describe my feelings toward my father. I care for him, I wish him no harm, I hope he’s happy… but I feel similarly for the waitress who served me dinner last night. I’m not bitter or angry with him, but a part of me does blame him for our lack of a connection. He was the parent, I was the child, wasn’t it up to him to make the effort all those years ago?
I was honored to be a dear friend’s matron of honor not too long ago. We dressed and prepared for the ceremony at her home and before we departed for the church, a special moment was set aside for her and her father, a first look at his daughter on her wedding day. I was so touched by their connection, the tears in both their eyes, knowing neither of them would ever forget that moment. And just as touching was the father-daughter dance at the reception…
I’ve never had those moments, nor will I ever make those memories with my father. I don’t feel cheated, I don’t feel I missed out on life. My amazing mother fills in for the times my father did not.
There were no snide comments this year in my cards, just birthday wishes and even some cash from my grandmother. I feel guilty for not making an effort with them. I feel obligated to call and thank them for thinking of me on my birthday. I hate that I feel guilty and obligated. I hate feeling as though making an effort with my father and his side of the family is one more chore on my to-do list. I hate feeling as though I’m the party who isn’t making the effort… I hate feeling responsible for the lack of a connection… I hate it all.
I’ve watched Eric with Kona, and yes, she’s a pet, but regardless, he’s wonderful with her. I love watching them play together, her licking his face and he pretending he doesn’t love it. I pray someday I’ll have the opportunity to watch Eric and our children.