When I attended high school, our house was too close to be assigned a bus route and too far away for my mother and step father to trust me to walk home by myself, even though unawares to them, I had walked further and in less desirable places. Not being allowed to do things was sort of my MO until I ran away from home at 17, but well, that's a whole other 34,026,397,246 blog posts. This walking fear was my default unless I was forgotten about and the 3+ hours I had sat on the steps at school enraged me to the point of not caring if I was to get in trouble or not by actually footing it home.
I remember not understanding how it was that no one realized I was not around; my whereabouts those days tracked like I was in a penitentiary. Yet, no one said a word. I just, walked into the kitchen as if coming straight from my room.
To be forgotten is a hollow feeling. I didn't talk about it with them, confusion overwhelming the moment, and then fear of the repercussions for having revealed I came home on my own. It happened again, but each time, it just sort of hurt less and less. Pain is interesting like that. If you are physically hit with a hand, belt, spoon or paint stick, it's only the first 3-5 smacks landed that actually hurt. After that, you grow numb; to the stimulation, the situation.
To many who know me, it is no secret my biological father is not a member of the Upstanding Citizens Brigade. After my parents divorce, there were large chunks of time during my childhood where my sister and I did not see him and in those times that we did, my grandmother was the one who established that link. Had it not been for her, we most likely would not have seen him ever again; the lengths he took to hide from my mother and the mostly short arm of child support enforcement, were beyond normal cut and run tactics utilized by the average bear. He is a smart, cunning and very resourceful man. A virtual stranger to me; one who shares my deep set eyes and razor sharp sarcasm.
I think his disappearance and aversion was the easiest way to psychologically handle the divorce while having young children. I was five, my sister only three. His own father had disappeared during his teenage years, which was a turning point in his life as relayed through other family members. Childhood revolved around science and athletic promise for him but quickly degenerated into disruptive behavior fueled by anger, resentment and a quiet but basic need to simply, have ones Daddy back.
I can guess as to how he must have felt because these war of emotions has ruled my own life, off and on, for the greater part of 30 years.
At 34, I can still not say an unkind word to his face, though my head swims with contempt upon even hearing his voice on the other end of the phone. In his presence, I feel like a five year old desperately trying to impress an enigma I will never fully comprehend.
My mother knew about these secret visits, and rather than put a stop to them, allowed it to happen even though it was against what paperwork said he was legally allowed to do. We would be visiting my grandmother and then *poof* he would magically show up; long enough to jumble a small, confused mind; short enough that etched memories, built up over time became these colossal events with skies of rainbows and sparkles, his image in our heads elevated to God like stature.
But it was just another day. And he only, just a man.
To a child, everything is so simple and larger than life.
Love me. Hold me. Don't forget about me.
Parents become Kings and Queens of the Universe, stronger than Superman and more powerful than the law.
We grow up and our perspective widens; rhinestones no longer sparkle as beautifully as diamonds.
There comes a point in life, or in death, when you are definitively judged.
It was easier to have forgotten about us, than to have fought (the situation or himself) to be a significant part of our lives. Ever. No matter the excuses, or the reasoning, this is what it boils down to in the end.
With her passing, there seems to me, the promise of personal release I had not understood before this month began. I no longer feel an obligation to run to his aide in order to give her peace; a scenario that has been played out these last few years on more occasions than I care to admit to. In the last month, indeed, things have still not changed. But I have. A lot.
For years I have been carrying this torch for him, hoping there would be some modicum of effort to establish more than the very basic back and forth niceties, when I wasn't playing along like a child unaware of the manipulation and lies swirling behind her back. Countless initiations, declined and excused. My sister and I doing our part as adults to move past the scars of adolescence.
In saying goodbye to her, I am saying goodbye to him. The need to communicate is no longer present, what remains, like Elvis, soon to leave the building.
For a past we speak little about, it will be another step in healing for us both.
As once a good friend always signed his letters:
Never straight, always forward.