Forgetting Does Not Mean Forgiving: A Father’s Day Message

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there.

Memories of my father are misty soft-focused outlines of events. They seem more like memories of photographs I haven’t seen recently. My father vanished completely from my life 18 years ago, he started to vanish 12 years before that, if he was ever actually there, that is. He is alive. A girl from the neighborhood sees him around town every now and then. He just stopped wanting to see my sister and me, I guess.

I am sure he has his reasons or what he thinks are reasons, but when you are 12 years old and your father never calls you and rarely returns your calls, you know it’s because there is something wrong with you. There is something that he can see, maybe all adults can see, that makes you unworthy, less than, not enough. Through his inactions, and sadly even some of his actions, I grew up thinking that I was not worth his time.

For quite a few years, he was a little league coach and I watched him interact with the kids on his team, being much more interested and excited and engaged with them than he ever was with me.

Once, after reviewing a less-than-favorable junior high report card, he commented that my mother and sister got the brains in the family.

I learned how to shave from the Lab Series sales associate at the Bon Marche.

He sold a a car for me to one of his friends and kept the money. I asked about it a few times and he would say that he traded it for something that he was selling and that I would get it soon, but it never happened.

When I told him that his father raped me repeatedly when I was four and five years old, his only response was to ask me why I agreed to move in and look after the same grandfather.

He and his sister must have changed or broke their Father’s will to cut my sister and me out. We received nothing and only learned of our grandfather’s death because our mother’s coworker read it in the newspaper and recognized the names.

My advice to fathers on Father’s Day is to either step up or stay away. You cannot half-ass it with a kid. If you can’t do it, just go away and let the memories fade.

My advice to kid on Father’s day is that you do not have to forgive to forget. Hopefully, your father didn’t fuck up on purpose. He probably just didn’t know how to be an adult and that is his fault for not sorting his shit out before having a kid. If you have kids of your own, it stops with you. Be the parent you wanted, not the one you had. It is probably scary and ego-crushingly hard, but you owe it to them, you owe it to yourself.

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