Yesterday, Father’s Day, a day fraught with emotion, loss, guilt and anger; not just for me but for many a close friend. We come from a generation of divorce. A generation raised by strong women. Some of us never knew our fathers at all. Some remember but the memories are all bad. Some of us have no memory from before the divorce. As if it took the court to tell these men that spending time with their children was something that they should have been doing all along.
So yesterday raised that age old question in my family on Father’s Day, to call or not to call. I had not heard from my Dad since Christmas. He had missed my birthday (a first) and apparently Easter (not sure that I noticed that one). I think the last time that I spoke to him was when he had asked me what I wanted from my grandparent’s house (he is trying to sell it) and both of my requests were shot down. One was for my grandmother’s collection of salt and pepper shakers which lived in her kitchen on a low rounded shelf. That collection had always fascinated me as a kid. Never allowed to touch but always wanted to. Unfortunately that request had come too late and they were already gone.
I called my mom yesterday to see if my sister had called our dad. Apparently she had. My mom hadn’t asked her but my uncle had. So my mom knew. Now that I knew, not calling was likely not an option. Guilt was winning the day. The giant time difference between NY and HI make it so that the call must be made, in my mind, prior to 2:00 p.m. My dad is currently living with the family of his housekeeper. Ultimately I think that it is good for him for many reasons.
I called my dad while we were waiting at the nail place (Father’s Day present at our house=pedicure). Half of me was hoping for the answering machine (guilt + guilt) but my call was answered. My dad finally got on the line. He went through the litany of problems he has with his health. Unlike some hypochondriacs I know, his health problems are vast. He still deals with the side effects from the stroke he had many years ago. He is receiving treatment for prostate problems. All this while trying to navigate the veteran’s health care system. Should I be the one assisting with all of this? I don’t know. It is difficult to have a relationship at a level like that when we have no foundation, nothing to build off of. This may make me a bad daughter.
My dad apologized over and over for missing my birthday, for missing Easter. I told him it was fine. Usually he just talks and talks at me and I just make noises of assertion; a remnant of our non-foundational relationship. And then he mentioned to me that he still had one of the sets of salt and pepper shakers of my grandmother’s. He said he had the one that had started it all. It was a mix and match set that he had purchased from the Indianapolis 500. One was a race car and one was the shape of Indiana. I could picture them exactly in my mind. He said that he still had it and that he would give it to me. I do not know if he had kept them aside for himself because they meant something to him. I do know that this tiny, tiny thing, is huge to me, huge to me in my heart. And that is not a place that my dad has ever really had a lot of space.