It’s 13 days into the new year and things in my life are already different. You can’t prevent the passing of time and you can’t eliminate change.
My biological father and I were estranged for the past 6 years. The man that he used to be was immature, haunted and violent. He didn’t want children and with every glass of cranberry juice and vodka, the more that fact was expressed. Once I reached the milestone of adulthood, he had changed into a much different creature. He was resentful of everything he lost. He was convinced that my mother was to blame. In his mind, every mottled bruise on my body, every damaged wall, and every defensive flinch when he entered my room could all be traced to something that my mother did that pushed him over the edge.
We failed to have any conversations because he would bring up the past. Only now, it was my fault for being “a difficult child” as well as my mother’s fault for expecting him to be a parent while she was at work. After that last conversation, I halted all forms of communication with him. I only kept him on my Facebook page in case he died. My other family members informed me that he looked at my Facebook page. It was a constant reminder of what he had lost. I didn’t want to I don’t think that there is anything mentally wrong with my father. I think that he processes his guilt with outbursts of anger. He realizes what he has done, then what he has lost, and he’s angry. He has to blame someone, something, anything and has to go through all that realization that he is to blame before he finally reaches acceptance. I never thought that he would reach that final stage and to be honest, for years I didn’t care if he did. I was happier letting go of the past and moving forward with life.
I thought about him again until recently when Matthew came into my life. He challenges me so much and he doesn’t even realize it. We were sitting on the porch smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee when he mentioned his brother. He elaborate on the specifics but insinuated that they had rekindled a damaged relationship. It made me stop and evaluate my own discarded relationships. If this man could reach out and forgive someone that hurt him, why wasn’t I attempting the same? I finally got curious enough to snoop around my own father’s Facebook page as he’d been doing to mine for years. What I found completely stunned me. He was posting pictures of me at various ages as well as some of my recent pictures. He had been doing this for about years.
I was naive to think that he didn’t care. I assumed he never gave me another thought since I had done the same. I underestimated the depth of a parent’s love and ultimately the power of regret. I held a mirror up to myself and saw some pretty horrendous flaws. It hurt. I never realized how easily it was for me to just drop someone or how damaging it could be to the person I dropped. I felt like a horrible person and I hated it. I want nothing more then to help people and make others happy. I failed. I didn’t know how to talk to Matthew about how I was feeling and I didn’t even know how to make things better. I tried to ignore it for awhile. Obviously, that method never works. Right around Christmas 2016, I took a deep breath and asked my dad for his number. I wasn’t too surprised when he gave it to me. I was surprised how nervous I felt when he answered.
We both apologized and spent the next few hours catching each other up on the last 6 years that passed. That’s when I truly noticed how much grey my dad’s hair had. I’ve missed out on so much and I can never regain that. I wish I could. He has changed so much. He laughs again. The words he selects when he communicates are slow, thoughtful, and kind. It’s a drastic change from my memories. He sounds hopeful, content and calm. His demons have been laid to rest as have mine. I look forward to us continuing to rekindle and heal from the damage dealt. I will cherish all the time we have left instead of dwelling on what we lost.
We can’t halt time, but we can make time spent memorable and productive. A life lesson has been learned. What else do you got 2017?