Technically, I had a father. Sperm donor is more accurate, but that term raises questions and requires explaining, so father it is.
My parents, you see, divorced when I was 13 and I barely noticed. My dad hadn’t figured too prominently in my day-to-day because he had other priorities. Important things like golf, work, business travel, women. The only memorable role he played was in telling me my grandfather had died. I still haven’t forgiven him. It wasn’t my dad’s fault, he didn’t kill him or anything, but the news opened a hole that refuses to close.
I was at the pool, busy surviving a wicked game of Sharks and Minnows, when I was paged to the phone. Well, the timing stunk, but I hauled myself out of the water, anyway, and stomped to the telephone expecting my mother to say come home. Instead it was my dad. Now, this was a clear breach of protocol. He’d no right bossing me around, so I argued to stay.
I lost, but I decided to show him; I’d take my own sweet time. I dawdled and frittered, I muttered about unfairness, I stopped off at the tennis courts to look for balls smacked over the fence, then reluctantly pedaled my bike home — the long way. When I got there my dad was the only one in the house and my senses went on high alert. Something was terribly, horribly wrong.
I don’t imagine it’s easy telling a kid their hero is gone. I’m sure he did the best he could, tried to be compassionate, but my father was a stranger to me in many respects. I wanted my mother. Where was my mother? Panic was rising in my chest and I was having a little trouble containing it. My mom, he said, was with my grandmother. I demanded to be taken to her.
My grandparent’s house was filled with somber faces and hushed voices. Clusters of people were gathered in the livingroom, ladies bustled in the kitchen, food clogged the dining room, and I searched for the only comfort I knew. When I at last clapped eyes on my mother, my heart broke apart. The sorrow and hurt burst like a thunderstorm. I’d lost my grandpa. On Father’s Day.
For me, this is a day laced with loss and absence. So rather than lament, I celebrate my dear old mom. After all, she was both mother and father, as well as my closest friend and a really good audience. She was also comically inept as a disciplinarian. When she tried to issue a command or look menacing, it was nothing short of hilarious. I’d point and laugh and go on my merry way.
So, happy Father’s Day, you big fiercy.
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