Not all fathers are created the same.

A.K.A. Why I avoid social media on Father’s Day.

For a second there I almost forgot.

In an absent minded Sunday morning moment I almost clicked on the Facebook icon on my phone, ready to scroll through a bunch of mindless posts, statuses, and shared links as I waited for the kettle to boil.

Just before I clicked on it I remembered that it was Father’s Day and knew in a split second that my feed would be filled with heartfelt wishes to all the great dads out there, and lots of faded old photos of moustache’d dads with chubby cheeked kids on their laps.

I switched my phone off.

My father lives about half an hour away from me. Actually I’m not really sure where my parents live. Two years ago, in a fit of anger, my dad told me I was dead to him. His words were like an electrical jolt to the heart and my instinctive reaction was to end the call. {Back in the good ol’ days I would have slammed the phone down and hung up, there’s nowhere near the same satisfaction in just pressing the end call button}. My parents had decided that I was some kind of traitor to “the family”, and when I wearily told him that I just couldn’t deal with all the bullshit anymore those were his words.

You’re dead for me.

It took a long time and a lot of vodka to lower the volume of the words that kept reverberating in my mind like a broken record forever stuck in the same groove.

Then it took months of professional help with a really good psychologist to shake the depression that had, unsurprisingly, taken a firm hold.

I don’t even remember the last two fathers’ days, but this year I really wanted to send my dad a message. I have no desire to speak to him and dread the day that we bump into each other somewhere, but if {when} I do see him there are some things I will say to him. And this weekend as fathers day screamed at me from everywhere I looked, I was SO tempted to hit send on a message that looked something like this:

I wish things could have been different, but this is what you chose. Telling me that I was dead for you managed to wipe out almost four decades of my love and respect for you. Denying it to mum and your silence for the last two years has completely eroded any affection I once had for you. Your community and friends might think you’re a great guy and your other kids might think you’re a great dad but I know better. You are no father or grandfather to me or my kids, and no man. By choosing to be stubborn and proud you threw away the only child who would have actually spent today with you. I hope you’re as miserable as you deserve to be.

Too much? Too harsh? Bitter?

Maybe yes, but maybe I just don’t care anymore.

My dad is one of those people who is known by a lot of folks in his community. All I have ever had to say my whole life is that I’m his daughter, just his nickname was enough, and whoever I was speaking to knew who he was. He spent decades playing soccer and coaching teenagers, his whole life in this country living in the same area, and as a result a whole lot of people know who he is. And by extension, who his kids are. And it’s this reputation that he finds so important. It’s his cherished reputation when coupled with his stubborn pride and inability to ever be wrong that has kept him silent for two years.

Well fuck that.

Because, to paraphrase Joan Jett, I don’t give a damn about his reputation.

It’s based on appearances and all the different ways we think we know someone. A lot of people know him as a soccer player or coach, others know him as a cousin or friend, and a lot of others know him as the man who helped out on theirs or their friends’ homes. But there are only a precious few who can ever know him as a father.

Nor is he unique in being a less than stellar father. Sadly there are people I know well who have fathers who are as bad, and even worse. But what continues to bug me to this day is the fact that his reputation still means so much to him. Back in the early days of our falling out I avoided talking about my parents to anyone. I used to lie when asked how they were. I suppose I was keeping up appearances of my own, upholding the notion that we were still a functioning family. I don’t care enough to do that anymore.

I am fully capable of withstanding the uncomfortable looks, the shocked disbelief, and the uneasy doubt that I am faced with when someone asks how my parents are and I say I have no idea because I haven’t seen them in two years. My father, on the other hand, is not. It got back to me recently that when an old work colleague who knows my husband and kids asked my dad about us he lied and said we were all good, even adding what the kids were up to. {No doubt the family grapevine still functions better than any 24/7 news agency}. He pretended that everything was okay, and obviously there’s no doubt that it was easier to lie than to tell this person that his daughter and her family are no longer in his life, because of his actions and their choosing.

I know that he will continue to lie when asked about us. For as long as people who are little more than the most casual of acquaintances think he’s a good guy. He will continue living like he has one less daughter and four less grandchildren in his real, private life, while acting the good and proper family man to all those other people whose opinions seem to count more than I do.

But it’s his loss more than it is mine.

And I can live with that.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: