Thursday, June 15, 2006

Dad: Mine

My dad lives in New Orleans. He and his wife had evacuated just before Katrina hit and have since returned to rebuild.

The information about the safe evacuation and return comes to me third hand. My dad and I don't talk. Since he and my mom separated in 1968 and subsequently divorced some years later, I haven't had more than 2 dozen conversations with him.

Not, that I didn't try.

When I left my mom's home, I wrote my dad many, many letters. I sent him cards and after the kids were born, I sent photos and cards and letters. I was even more determined to forge some kind of relationship with him.

Dad would respond to one of my many missives once every three or four years or so, with a note or a phone call. Either would start the same way; "baby, I got your (letter, note card) I mean to get in touch sooner, I've been so busy..." He would usually throw in at some point how bad he is about writing or how he couldn't afford to call. He would also toss out that he loved me.

Sometime after his divorce from my mom, dad re-married. YB told be once that dad's wire didn't like the *fact* of us so he couldn't be involved with us. I thought it was more complicated than that, but it stung all the same.

The silence and seeming indifference year after year has had a thunderous effect.

I wrote him five years ago. That letter, I wrote that I finally got that he wouldn't or couldn't be more and while I have mourned the loss of his involvement with me and my children, I was done. I would leave him be. I would respond to him, but would no longer initiate.

He called four months after that letter was mailed. "Baby, I got your letter, I meant to get in touch sooner, I've..." We talked for about 30 minutes during which time he related that he understood how I felt. He thought the letter sounded angry. I struggled to sound the opposite of angry, but I assured him that I was not, I was done with angry. He vowed to do better, to be better; he professed his love for me, again. I asked if there was some way we could communicate that would be easier, email maybe. He said he didn't have and couldn't use a computer.

I wrote him a letter a few months after this conversation. I haven't gotten a response.

When Katrina hit, I searched message boards, data bases and added my name to *looking for* lists. I didn't see his name. I didn't get any news as to his possible fate or whereabouts.

One of his sisters, who had heard from another sister that dad and his wife had evacuated before the storm and had been staying with their son until it was safe to return. This information was conveyed to my mom, who passed it on to me.

This was a month ago. I called the number I have for him. An answering machine or voice mail mechanism with his wife's voice picked up the call. I left a message. There hasn't been a return call.

Many years ago, shortly before she died, my maternal grandmother and I were talking about my dad. I was going on and on about how he was such a doo doo head (or some similar sentiment) and she said; "you know if your dad was in trouble and he called you for help, you will help." At the time, I was thinking she must've been smoking some of my cousin's stash.

But, you know what? She was / is probably right, because he is, after all, my dad.


  1. God, you can make me just cry sometimes. I don't know what I'd do without my daddy in my life. I'm so sorry yours is missing out on such a wonderful thing.

  2. My father is going to turn 53 this year and there's still that annoying sliver of hope that I might actually be able to call him him "dad" some day.

  3. This post made me very sad. I don't have a super close relationship with my father, but over the years we've worked out a rhythm that works for us both.

    And of course you'd help him if he needed it. That makes it all the sadder. Some parents just don't get it.

  4. I'm glad for you (and your dad) for something is better than...

    No. They don't.


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