Hey Dad

I write a lot about my mom.  My mom’s love has always been something I’ve felt I had to earn.  She’s pushed and tested and judged me.  She’s believed in me and then crushed me.  She’s never just encouraged and supported me.  And I’ve always wished she would.  

Sometimes….when I’m really sad and vulnerable, I will tell people what it was like growing up with my mom.  I’ll tell those stories some day.  But, I almost never talk about my dad.

My dad is far from perfect.  He worked a lot.  He felt he had to. He’s closed off emotionally.  He’s not like me.  I have a tremendous desire to heal and to do it with communication.  But, my particular brand of communication is pretty radical to my dad–but, at least, he reads it.

My dad was never there and yet, always there.  I would stay up late to see my dad and we would watch “The Night Stalker”, “The Creature from the Black Lagoon”, “Salem’s Lot”.  Hell, I had nightmares about Salem’s Lot for 8 years but it was totally worth it.  My dad got me into horror movies.  Those nights I spent awake with TV and no words were incredibly important to who I am.

There’s one memory in particular….I was home sick.  My mom and dad went out of town to watch my brother play football.  It was fine.  But when my mom got home and took my temperature, it was 104.  She complained about how she was a bad mom to leave me.  She looked to my dad to ease her guilt.  He thought nothing of it.  That night, my dad stayed up and watched the original “Nightmare on Elm Street” with me.  I was in and out, but every time I woke up and looked back at him…..I was on the floor and he was in a chair….his eyes were open and every once in a while he’d do the bwahahahaha laugh.  

Then, there were the numerous nights I hid in my bedroom and he’d come to my room and just say, “I love you, kid.”  Words my mother could never say.  

But then, he left.  I woke up one day and it was just mom and me.  Even though mom and me seemed to be a reason dad didn’t want to live with us anymore.  She was too hard on me is what he liked to tell people.  But then, he left us alone together.  

I’m not sure I ever told him how difficult that was, but I’m guessing he knew.  I was just stronger than he was.  And I still am.

But, the reason I’m stronger is because he (and she) taught me to be–either on purpose or by sheer accident.  Either way, I loved him then and I love him now.  

Dad may be mortified that I share things with the world, but my guess is our relationship is quite similar to many others people have with their dads.  I can write about it.  They can relate.  It’s a good thing.

Dad has another heart surgery next week.  He’s scared about it even though he doesn’t say he’s scared.  He’s outlived the rest of his immediate family already and I know he thinks he’s on borrowed time–even though he doesn’t say it out loud.  

He’s going to be just fine because I love him and remember the most wonderful things about him.  And dad, if you’re reading this, just stop being embarrassed and realize I love you already.

I write better than speak.  

You’ll be fine.

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