I had originally wrote this for the Secret-Writer and thought mine was queued to be posted but never made the cut? So here goes..
I was debating whether or not to talk about the relationship I guess you could say I have with my dad. And thought, there isn't really enough substance to it that makes a good story. And then my dad's friend walked into our work and he introduced me to him. The guy barely shook my hand and couldn't even look me in the eye. Maybe it's just my mindset about my dad but I felt like he probably never had anything good to say about me and that was the response I got from his friend.
We work together, my dad and I that is. Our offices share a wall yet you'd never guess we were more than mere acquaintances. It's been like this for as long as I can remember. He was never around that much before my parents got divorced - guess he's still not now. I honestly don't have too many good or bad memories of him from when I was young, even though we lived in the same house. He was there to "discipline me." I remember one time in particular when he was supposed to "discipline me with the belt" but didn't. And I think it was because I had stuffed my shorts with underwear so it didn't hurt as bad. He pulled my pants down and saw it, I guess it looked ridiculous. But It stopped him dead in his tracks though and I was just sent to my room.
Maybe I'm sort of desensitized to it, but at the time I didn't think it was that bad of a thing to hit your kids. I wouldn't hit my own kid now - but back then, that's what you did. And if you got it good enough - you didn't do whatever you did again.
Throughout my childhood I remember my mother taking care of us 24/7. I'm not sure how she did it, but she took care of 4 kids with little to no help other than financial. One day in particular stands out to me when I knew I made her proud. My dad had apparently come back from a "golfing trip" and was talking to my mother in the entrance just as I came down the stairs.
She said to me "Your father's back, did you miss him?"
I was 5 years old and completely innocent "I didn't even know you were gone?"
Probably the only time I ever heard my mother laugh in front of him. But it was little stories like this that I remember about him, and I have a pretty good memory. One time my mom and dad were in their bedroom and I was walked in as she was giving him a foot massage. And for whatever reason I remember her words verbatim.
"You don't have to worry about your father and I, we're going to be together forever, we won't separate like some parents do"
I don't even remember there being a segue into it either. It just sorta came out. I can't imagine what he was thinking at the time though. It couldn't have been too long after, that he left us for the girl he had been cheating on my mom with. My guess, he was probably already on the way out in his head.
As a kid you never know why you hold onto certain stuff but you do, and you have no choice over most of it. Other people that know me can't comprehend the relationship I have with my dad. But you'd honestly think we barely knew each other. We don't say good morning or goodbye to each other. Not even a nod or a wave... well to be completely honest sometimes there is a nod.
I don't really want to fix any of this either because that is what seems normal to me. Part of me knows my dream job isn't working for the family business. But the other part knows I will lose what little relationship I have with him and that side of the family if I do move on.
I often wonder if he thinks it's odd that I can talk to a co-worker so open and honestly but then our conversations feels forced and painful. I've often described talking to him like having a conversation with a bomb technician as they're deciding to cut the red wire or green wire. The people closest to him are the ones he has the least amount of patience with. I actually feel bad for my stepmom, the girl he cheated on my mom with, I know she must get a worse version of him than I do. I can almost see the pain in her like I use to see in my mom.
There were letters I found that my dad wrote to all of his children when he left our family. My mother would always tell the story about how I handed out everyone's goodbye letter.
But the truth was the day I came home from school and saw my grandmother's car in the driveway never really set it. I knocked on my own front door because I knew something was wrong. My grandmother opened the door and was obviously crying for hours.
She patted me on the head and gave me a soggy teared kiss and let me know everything was gonna be alright. My mother oddly enough, maybe she saw it coming for years, but was rock solid. Sure she cried at some point after that - But that was the day she found out as well. One of the neighbors called and said they saw a van at our house and people moving furniture out. So when I found the letters it was because I didn't believe all of his stuff was gone with him. He would leave and not come back before, often enough that I thought it was just another one of those days. But this time he was gone for good.
I honestly don't remember being upset but I do still remember sitting on the bus that day before finding out. I was singing songs in the back of the bus with a seat all to myself. The windows were down and everyone was happy, must have been a Friday.
"Gimme a break, Gimme a break, break me off a piece of that kit-kat bar"
I think my mom was finally happy that it was over though. I remember her taking me for rides around our neighborhood after this, when she wanted to talk to me more before pulling in the driveway.
"Make sure you learn just one thing from your dad and don't be like him... I know you'll grow up to be an amazing father and husband. You'll be the best dad"
But to end on a happy note. I think I am growing up to hold my mother's words true. I know I'm making her proud and if you could only see the love my daughter has for me already - I think anyone reading this would be proud as well. My daughter and wife are the most important things in my life and I would do anything for them. But I also believe my love for them is so strong not only because I want to be this way - but I don't want to be like my dad. I don't hate him though and I know my mom doesn't either. She's very happy and successful now and also remarried. She can see the good that came from it. Divorce is tough on everyone but it has taught me a lot, I know that.