Father’s day is really hard for me. And so this morning, rather than posting something negative, or reminiscent of a ‘cry for sympathy’ about our relationship, I chose instead to honor the many examples of wonderful Father’s in my world. Since you are not on my Facebook, and I have that shit locked down like Fort Knox, to shield myself from negativity, bitterness and dramatics associated with both you, and Mom, this is what I wrote:
To the dad’s that make my heart smile.
The ones who put their arms around their kids, their step-children and their grandkids. The ones that listen and smile quietly, perhaps not realizing that the little moments mean so much. That they are to little (and big) girls the example of strength, acceptance and steady love that becomes the blueprint for every male relationship in their lives.
For little (and big) boys, the role model of what it is to be a family man, and a model of strength and integrity. And the permission to be what the world never seems to allow men to be; gentle, sentimental, nurturing and compassionate.
To the fathers who extend that love to kids who aren’t even their own. The ones that make you feel like you are their kid too, because of the breadth of their love.
Thank you for reminding me what it means to be a good and loving parent.Kevin, Kirk, Danny, Stephen, Chad, Robert, Uncle Michael, Rusty, Uncle Tim, Mr. Kelly, Benny, Uncle Joe, Jeremy, Ovais, Mario, Uncle Gary, Frank, Joe Brincat, Damon, Kevin and many more.
It’s not “nothing”. It’s a very powerful
and important something, to live in the heart of a child, no matter how old or young they are.
Happy Father’s Day you amazing, special men. God bless you
You aren’t wired to the internet, and I am not even sure if you read blogs, but if you did, you would see seven years of posts like this. Always on Father’s Day. Last night, I went to bed with the intention of making this the best Father’s Day ever for Kevin. Of making my Father-in-law feel special. This morning I woke up with a vivid echo (I guess I had been on replay in my dreams for most of the night, during which I slept, but not peacefully). I woke up with the sound of your voice in my ear, like a javelin straight through my heart:
It’s been 13 years Lori, and to be honest with you, I haven’t missed you a single day.
I cried, but I didn’t let you hear it on the phone. My husbands eyes welled up with tears; on speakerphone to support the bravery it took to even call you, after so many things happened, and so much hurt. He was devastated for me. For the two years it took to build that courage and get to the place where I said: “I think I can let the past go, and just try to make the most of the time we have left, to start over.”
It’s been seven years, not thirteen. And it’s been four years since I froze out Terri too. And I want you to know that I have never been deserving of an ounce of the vitriol that you have thrust into my heart. Remember me? I was the little tom boy that was splitting wood with you, every summer. Picking weeds in the garden and helping you with the farm animals. I was the one that kept my room extra neat because you like that (not that you noticed), and the one that floundered to find herself, while you convinced me that I was “a flake” and “a disappointment” and “not a son”. The one that went to school and was told by some, that she would grow up to be a talented writer. I never believed them, or that it was even possible, because you told me that “creativity is for weak people, who want to live on welfare their whole lives”.
You were a horrible husband to an unhappy, prescription drug addicted wife. You were gentle with your parents, but always jealous and critical of the success of your brothers and sisters. People who worked strategically to create the life they wanted. You were so full of strategies, that you could have done the same. Street smart. Not really a ‘people person’ though, because anyone you encountered who had a different idea, or a different belief, or a unique way of looking at things that was not identical to your own, was ‘stupid’. And having a fat daughter was an embarrassment. You probably could have got behind a more feminine model type of young girl, because aesthetic mattered more than substance.
To you. But never to me.
Every day I go through my life, with this small voice in my soul that whispers “if you were a higher quality human being, your parents would have loved you.” And I have people in my life who listen to that, sometimes when the weight of it gets too much, and it spills out unexpectedly; they tell me that voice is wrong. They allow me to consider for a moment, that you are wrong, and so is Mom.
And that perhaps, while I bear the pain of two parents who don’t give a shit about me, that just maybe… you both are the ones missing out on an incredible daughter. Someone who is strong, loyal, sentimental, generous and loving. Asking for not one damn thing from you, but the one thing you are incapable of giving. Love.
Kevin’s father died tragically at about my age. Kevin wasn’t even 20 years old when it happened. One of the bonds that Kevin and I share is that our Father’s died, at about the same age. The man I knew and recognized, died when I turned 19. The man that remained was someone I not only didn’t recognize, but he was someone so angry, so bitter about life and his lack of trajectory in it (comparing… always comparing to other people with envy). And as the years went on and I got married the first time, less and less of the man I knew and worshiped as a child remained. A man that told me to stay in an unhappy marriage, because my husband was wealthy. A man who tried to talk me out of a divorce, and when the divorce was impending, and I went to you for advice on getting out of my divorce intact (and making sure Paul was intact), you were the man who laughed when I said he was depressed. When I told you I was concerned my ex-husband was going to commit suicide, you changed the topic to instruct me how to valuate the estate. “You are fucking stupid Lori, so if you are leaving, you have one shot to get what is coming to you.”
I didn’t choose money, I chose Paul and my soul. I spent 7 years paying off marital debt, accepting no alimony, and living for the first three years, barely above the poverty level in Toronto. Thank God I had free lunches at the College of Pharmacists, where I worked. I dropped another 30 lbs in that period, but not by working out. And I was too proud to go to a food bank.
The darkness of your heart marked me forever, in that period. I navigated my way through my divorce with the help of good friends, and mentors. Paul is remarried with a young son named Zach, and he is intact, happy and thriving again. That means more to me, than IBM stocks. You and I, when it comes to the treatment of other people, and prioritizing harmony, peace of mind, generosity and compassion, could not be more far apart. We’re polar opposites. And with time and distance I see, that even as I idealized you as a child, you hated me for my intelligence, my questioning of your moral compass (or lack thereof), and my intolerance for the manipulative games that tore people down, and apart around you.
I know now, that I made you feel bad about yourself, because I was a good person. I make no apology for who I am. I was strong enough to define myself, work on my own goals independently, and observe moral, hardworking and kind relationship examples from other people in my microcosm and world. And from them, I set my compass on being a good person in spite of all you tried to teach me about vindictive behavior, jealousy, selfishness, gossip and dishonesty.
These letters will never find you. And if they did, you’d launch into a defensive rant about what an ungrateful daughter I am. How you put me through school (you’re lying… you didn’t pay a dime), how you prioritized me after the divorce (you didn’t, you left me alone in the house on your conquest through every unemployed single Mom you could bed, while I drank myself to near alcoholism every weekend, trying to block out the fact that Kim and I didn’t factor to either of our parents anymore).
You played my sister against me for years. Jealous of our relationship, you did everything you could to compare us to each other, to drive that wedge. It was sick. We have overcome, and are closer than ever now. She excuses the behavior that hurts her, because having one parent in your world to love and be loved by, is better than none. I can vouch for that, because ‘none’ feels very painful, and empty sometimes. And it makes me question my value when I am feeling low, that a woman that so many people respect and compliment, is so utterly unworthy of love from her parents. If I was… perhaps both parents would have been better parents? I still question my ability to inspire love in anyone. Your painful, enduring gift to me.
You had two choices when you heard my voice. You had a choice to accept an olive branch that you frankly, did not deserve. But there was sincerity in my heart when I extended it, so completely aware of the precarious nature of time on this planet. I guess I am never going to be okay with not having my parents in my life, but the alternative to invite you both in, when you bring so much hatred, violence and discord… what are my choices? I chose me. My sanity. My happiness, and my right to cultivate a life without the vitriol. A positive world for myself and a creative one. A peaceful one.
Happy Father’s Day wherever you are. Be a better Father to Kim. She needs you. And I’ve done a good job of convincing myself, that I don’t. And on most days (except this one) it works.