Just over a month ago, as we were heading out to Good Friday services, one of us hit the play button on the answering machine to listen to the message that came in while we were having dinner. I can’t remember what that message was even about as another unplayed message on the machine caught our attention.
A woman’s voice I didn’t recognize with a name I didn’t catch came on. She called, after trying to find my contact information and hoping she had the right person, to tell me my father had passed away after a 5 month battle with brain cancer. Surprise. Shock. But no tears. After many years with no contact, this call was the most likely of one of two scenarios I expected. The other being that he would some day just show up insisting to pick up the pieces as if time hadn’t passed.
I found the obituary and guest book online, as well as a couple of news articles. It was very strange to read the descriptions of a man who was biologically my father, yet a total stranger. They mentioned his love of life, kindness, generosity, classyness, devotion and dedication to his work, etc. I learned he had remarried yet again, number 6. Typical of how I learned about such life milestones. I sent a message to his widow, thanking her for letting me know. She also sent me pictures and a letter telling me how much he loved me.
That’s the part I have the most trouble believing and understanding. I last saw my father almost 24 years ago. I last communicated with him about 12 years ago. He had written to tell me he was expecting a child. That was the last I heard from him. I continued to write for about 9-12 months, sending pictures of his than 2 grandchildren, but never heard from him again. My sister passed away about 4 years ago. Mike had tracked him down to tell him and the reply was rather cold…he wanted to remember her as he last saw her, please don’t call me again.
His widow tells me that he spent that day in a church and crying. Yet there was no epiphany of any kind, no realization that he still had a daughter and 2 grand children. Four years and no contact. I understand my half-brother was not at his funeral, his mother didn’t let him attend. I feel for that child, by age 5 his parents had divorced and at 13 his father died. I’ve seen what the loss (by any means) of a father can do to a child, even in their adult years. I hope he’s a strong child.
A father who refuses to give his children contact information is not a father who is looking to keep those relationships alive. You’ll excuse me for not believing that he loved me. He always loved life and his work, that was clear and visible…but his children, not clear at all. As for the tears, I can’t shed any at this point. I think because for me, my Dad moved on years ago and I allowed the scabs to form and heal. No need to pick at them. My time and energy has been needed elsewhere.