Technically, I had a father. Sperm donor is a more accurate term, but it raises questions and requires explanation, so father it is.
My parents, you see, divorced when I was 13 and I hardly noticed. My dad was never a prominent figure in my day-to-day because he had other priorities. Big, important things like golf, work, business travel, women. The one memorable role he played was telling me my grandfather had died and I’ve still not 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, intent on surviving a ruthless game of Sharks and Minnows when I was paged to the phone. Even though the timing stunk, I hauled myself out of the water and sploshed to the telephone expecting my mother to say come home for dinner. Instead, it was my dad. Now, this was a clear breach of protocol. He’d no right bossing me around, he was an interloper, so I put up a fight.
I lost, yes, but I didn’t surrender — I took my own sweet time going. I sauntered; I dawdled; I frittered and loitered and lollygagged; I checked the woods for stray tennis balls.¹ Eventually, I gave up and pedaled my bike home the long way. When I got there, though, my father was the only one in the house and my sensors went on full alert. Something was terribly, horribly wrong.
It can’t be easy telling a kid their champion is gone. I’m sure he did his best and tried to cushion the blow, but my father was a stranger to me in many respects. What I wanted was my mother. Where was my mother? Panic mounted in my chest and I was having trouble containing it. My mom, he said, was with my grandmother. I demanded to be taken to her.
At my grandparents’, the house was filled with somber faces and hushed voices. Clusters of people were gathered in the livingroom, ladies bustled in the kitchen, food packed 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 exploded like a thunderstorm; my grandfather, a man who was my moon and stars, had died. On Father’s Day.
For me, this is a complicated day of mixed feelings. So rather than dwell, I celebrate my dear old mom. After all, she was both mother and father, as well as my greatest friend and a really good audience. She was also comically inept as a disciplinarian. Whenever she tried to issue a command or look menacing, it was nothing short of hilarious. I’d point and laugh and go my merry way. Those were good times.
So, happy Father’s Day, you big fiercy.
copyright © 2018 the whirly girl
¹ Loafed just like I did all last week, which left me no choice but to reblog a post from last year. Sorry. I’ll try to do better next time. Note I used the word try, which is no guarantee I’ll succeed. Just that, sure, I’ll try.