Well, some of you have read my 30 Days of Truth, so, I feel no need to elaborate on why this isn’t a love letter to my father.
I did not call my father on Father’s Day. I did not send him a gift, or a card, or an email, or a text. Yesterday, I denounced him on the phone and told him I was officially taking my mother’s maiden name.
No way to talk a father is it?
His father, my Papa is still alive, but to be honest, we’ve never really known that side of our family very well. Even when my Grammy, his wife, was alive, we saw them only a couple times a year. I don’t really know much about either of them, except that they were younger than my other grandparents, and very french.
I never met my mother’s father. “Bampy” – my eldest cousin could never say “Grampy” right.
My mother always tells me about how he swam, “It was beautiful, every stroke. He barely made a sound, just gliding through the water. It’s where you and your sisters get it, I’m sure.”
He used to make fun of her knees, “Don’t know where you got ’em but not from me.”
I have her knees. Damn.
I know that right after my grandparents got married he left to fight in World War II and my Nana went to work at the Pentagon so she could know more about what was going on.
I also know he rarely, (my mother says), spoke of what he experienced at war.
It was in his wallet, in his picture insert, that my cousin found a photo of my mother at probably 10 or 12 years old and said, “Why does Bampy have a picture of Bell in his wallet?”
That’s when I realized just how much I look like my mother.
I am grateful for the father I knew. He made me unafraid to take projects on that I’m not necessarily qualified for. Like painting a house, or sewing a dress, or writing. He was a DJ and a computer engineer and he designed and built the house I grew up. One year he got gutsy and made a gorgeous portico on the front of our house.
IT was within the past few years that I noticed a difference. I wanted to hang pictures in my bedroom, but I knew there were studs and wires and whatnot I should worry about, so I figured I could teach me. Without speaking to me, as I meandered and did other things he grabbed some tools, went upstairs and hung them. Without me.
I was grateful.
Where was the man that let me help him make the entertainment center? Who taught me how he curved the corners with the different saws and taught me how to stain?
We have a big house, but it never seemed to overwhelm him until the past couple years.
I’m grateful that he was always proud of me, and felt no need to exaggerate my successes. (My mother loved to exaggerate. I love her anyways.)
Remembering that your parents are people is not easy.
To us, parents are superheroes, fighting evil and protecting the good guys. They swoop in when somebody breaks your heart, or your arm. They let you cry, sometimes, and they expect things from you like goodness and As & Bs on your report card. They expect you to look out for your siblings, and they look out for you. They get mad the first time you are 15 minutes past curfew and punish you for an eternity (usually about 1-2 weeks) but in reality it’s not just to teach you a lesson, it’s because those 15 minutes were agonizing and every possibility went through their minds.
How is it, then, that they could break our hearts? Aren’t we supposed to do the breaking? Break rules, break their hearts as we get older and grow up and leave. When they contradict their very teachings, we’re confuse asking ourselves, without expecting an answer, or believing in one, how the father of three girls could cheat on and leave his ailing wife, the lesson that teaches his son, the fear and distrust of men his daughters will need years to get over.
They are human.
This much is true.
I have been angry with my mother. I have been angry with my father.
I based my life around pleasing them for many years.
Shouldn’t they return the favor? I do as I’m expected…it’s only fair they live up to their end of the deal, within reason.
I’ve never stopped loving them.
But I’ve stopped talking to one of them, because being disappointed, feeling as though your hero failed you, is one of the strongest emotions for me.
I don’t take disappointment well.
Just ask my father.
I am grateful for our good moments together. I won’t forget them, but this year, Father’s Day is different for me.
Mostly, this Father’s Day, I’m grateful for my Uncle Skippy.
He’s learned Twitter so he can respond to my tweets (I helped a little with telling him how to respond I think) and he always reads what I write. When I was younger and needed to make money, he was there willing to offer me a job helping with his real estate newsletter (it was my first taste of journalism).
He stops by to check on my mother. He stops by to say, “Hi” and texts me pictures of my goddaughter, his granddaughter. When he can, he brings her to the house, often surprising us. Nothing makes me happier. He’s blunt and sarcastic, caustic, witty and kind. I have a feeling he’s equal parts his father and mother.
This year, I thank him for being there for us whenever we needed him. Sometimes all you need to feel better is to know that someone is there, just in case.
He’s an incredible human being and I am so lucky to have him in my life.
You don’t need to wear a cape or pay my college tuition to be a hero this father’s day. You don’t need to be a great cook, or never yell at me for being stupid. Nah, go ahead, tell me when I’m stupid, I deserve it.
Happy Father’s Day Uncle Skippy. Thank you for just being you. You’re just what I need. (I’ll make you a cape if you want one.) Merci, pour tous que tu fais.
Merci, pour tous que tu fais. Thank you, for all that you do.