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Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Romantic Rumor


I grew up with a diaphanous father who floated above me like a caption bubble saying, “?”.

He was a romantic rumor, a previous chapter in my mother’s book of life, leaving behind no photos for his three little girls to frame and fawn over. There would be no frame hugging in this family. No searching his dark eyes for our own, or comparing the curve of our noses to his; no joy of discovering a trace of ourselves in his image, thus… answering our desperate curiosity. The only evidence of his existence was our existence.

My dad was an old movie reel flickering in my mind, with imaginary memories, conjured by a credulous child, intoxicated with prime time fathers, and aching for paternal adoration.

I was always comparing my invisible father to the other girls’ dads, which never worked out well for me. I suffered like an amputee with an inflamed phantom limb… finding no possible way to soothe it.

I felt that I had been gypped by life; everybody that I knew had two parents, but I only had one. I assumed that I was somehow to blame for my father’s absence, after all I was little girl number three, and in my little girl mind I thought that he was tired of daughters. I envisioned him throwing his arms up in defeat when I was born, and tromping off to find another family where he could have his very own little boy. Of course all of this was nonsense, but the actual reasons for him leaving were incredibly complicated; certainly nothing a mere child could possibly comprehend.

Father’s Day continues to be a holiday that I view from afar, like witnessing the customs of a foreign country. There is still an empty seat at the head of my childhood table, and a little girl waiting wistfully by the darkened window. She knows that he isn’t returning, but she’s found nothing else that could take his place.

Appreciate every moment that you have with your dad. Hug him, tell him you love him, and do nice things for him, for there are many children, both old and young, who have never experienced a fathers’ love and the joy and security that it offers.

For those of you who have known the void of a fatherless childhood, my message to you is this: Accept the vacancy in your heart as part of yourself; offer it honor and appreciation. You are the incredible person that you are, because of that vacuum. You have had to find your identity independent of a father’s influence. You have had to be brave and resilient during hard times, when a strong hand wasn’t there to guide you…or hold you.

Be proud of whom you are, and of the family that you have…that coalition of love that worked doubly hard in order to fill in the gap left by your father. And remember, there is only one true Father, and He is of the Spirit, and not of the flesh. He will never leave you; for He lives in you.


32 comments:

The Loerzels said...

A hauntingly beautiful reminder Leah. May you and your husband celebrate the father that he is and the family that you have created today.

Leah Griffith said...

Likewise Marie. I'm thinking of you as you build your life in Colorado.

Corinne Rodrigues said...

Dearest Leah thank you for sharing something so deeply personal. I really have no words to offer - they sound so inane in light of your sharing. But thank you for reminding me to treasure my own father and to reach out to Our Father more. ♥♥

Leah Griffith said...

Thank you Corinne, for your beautiful presence. We do all share a common Father/Mother, in the spirit, which brings me so much comfort. Sending love this Father's Day.
XO

sulekkha said...

Beautiful and sad post Leah, hugs to you.

Dangerous Linda said...

Dear Leah,

Holding you in my heart this Father's Day -- I have my own reasons for being cranky! XOXOXO

Leah Griffith said...

It is sad, but somehow Sulekkha it's also enriching. I'm not sure I would change a thing, but I do still miss him. I doubt that ever goes away.
Sending a hug right back to you.

Leah Griffith said...

Linda, some day I would love to have a conversation in real time with you. I feel we have so much to share.
Love!

Lazy Pineapple said...

Leah..what a touching post...it must be difficult to such a personal information. God bless!!

Leah Griffith said...

Pineapple, I don't mind sharing some personal stuff. It usually offers comfort to others. Thank you for your visit.

Cheryl said...

Hi, Leah,
You and I have talked before of our common experience of a missing parent that we would never know. (even though mine was my mom) You make so many valid points but I doubt that most people could come close to relating. A bad parent or a parent with sometimes custody is still different than not being able to imagine or visualize what your parent might look like. I think you are very brave. You have handled this situation so strongly. I so admire you.

Jessica said...

Leah...you are a very strong person to share this and I think many can relate to this post. It gives inspiration and encouragement to those who have found themselves in a similar predicament while reminding those of us that have had father's in our lives to not take them for granted.
~ lots of love

Galen Pearl said...

I adopted my kids as a single mom. They were all okay with that, except my youngest daughter, who always wanted a dad. I tell people who are grieving the loss of a dad, be glad you had a dad to grieve. Very moving post. Thank you for sharing your story here.

Jodi Chapman said...

Thank you so much for this, Leah. I have been feeling a bit down today because I, too, grew up without my biological father. Well - sort of. He was around for a bit and then left and then around and then I asked him to leave. Anyway, as always, your words were exactly what I needed exactly when I needed them. Love to you, my friend.

Andy David said...

Dear Leah,
I lost my dad when I was a young teenager. Even though my time with him was short and he didn't live to see me become the man I am today, there's not a day go by that I don't feel his love. He was not an expressive man, but I've never doubted his love for me. Thankfully, I have photos and fond memories of our life together, plus my mom constantly reminds me of how much I look like him. Sometimes, I might hear an Indian song which reminds me of him and I often wonder what he would be like had he still been alive today. This was a very touching and heartfelt post. Thank you for sharing and for your kind words over at my blog.

Love, The Enchantress Flower

Andy David said...

BTW, LOVE that Stevie Wonder song!

J. R. Nova said...

This may be a stupid thing to feel good about, but I greatly appreciate that I'm not alone in finding Father's day empty of meaning.

My dad was self-centered, and always put others before me, not seeming to care for me at all unless he needed something, unless he could use me in some way. I finally disowned him, and Father's Days are pretty crummy. I live a "fatherless adulthood." I watch everyone celebrate how great their dads are, and I can only wish mine had been better.

I don't necessarily feel gypped, but it's still an emotional, painful day for me. I'm learning to live life, essentially an orphan, but I do believe I'll be stronger for it. I appreciate people more, knowing what it feels like to be taken for granted.

Thank you, Leah.

Roly Clu said...

Touching post. I am eternally grateful that I was there for my children from my second marriage but I am sad that I could not be part of my daughter with my first wife's life.

JANU said...

Such a wonderful and positive post. Very touching indeed. I can't even imagine what you have gone through. Now, since I lost my mom, 4 years back, me and my dad have grown closer. Nice reminder. Thanks.

Martha J. M. Orlando said...

So deeply moving, Leah . . . I know that your childhood was anything but easy, yet you have the courage and the love to share and to remind us who our one true Father is. Thank you for these most touching words here.
Blessings!

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

You know, everytime I read a blogpost of yours, I learn more about you and am fascinated by the person you have become. You amaze me with your strength and fortitude.

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Every time I read one of your posts, I learn more about you and the strong, talented, courageous woman you have become. You continually inspire me.

Nikky44 said...

<3 <3 <3

melissa said...

Oh I have so much love and respect for you Leah. I oftentimes wonder how it would be for my little nieces...I pray no such hatred nor indifference towards their own dads, I hope, like you, love and space will settle in even as they grow up without a father.

Lots of hugs...I'm not sure if I could do what you suggested but I promise to be kinder to my dad :*

Tameka said...

This touched my heart space Leah. As someone who had two fathers (biological and adoptive) and barely knew either as I was taken away from my biological father and lived with an adoptive dad who was not allowed to truly be a dad due to my mother's insecurities, I often search for the male influence in my life today and come up empty more times than not. I too stare into space as both of these untouchable dads have passed. I will harken back to this post more than once for comfort. Thank you.

Leah Griffith said...

To all who have responded to this post, thank you! I know that this one hit a chord with many, causing introspection and probably some pain, but also some light and release.

I usually post return comments individually, but this one packed such a wallop that I simply don't have the emotional strength to do that. This in no way means that I don't appreciate and respect your comments. Each one touched me very deeply.

I love that you opened up about your own feelings and experiences here. That's what I want for ELR—is for people to reflect, laugh, cry, and purge. I'm honored by your words and presence. Each one of you are amazing and brilliant lights in this weary world.
Sending love!
Leah

Debbie Maxwell Allen said...

Powerful words. They pull emotion out of me. Keep on writing, and never stop.

~Debbie

Leah Griffith said...

Thank you Debbie. I intend to keep writing until I leave this world. You too girl!

Andy David said...

My dear Leah,
Yes, very, very deep emotions with potent words of beauty. I am so impress. Thanks for sharing.

Leah Griffith said...

Thank you sweet Andy. I'm happy to have inspired you <3

Jayne said...

Leah- I mean this sincerely, you are a crazy, beautiful creature. This post made me sob. Especially those last few paragraphs. My dad is no longer with us, yet he lives brightly in my heart. I can't imagine the pain of having lost a father--by his own doing--at such a young age. It seems though, coming through this, you've been strengthened by your losses--giving them due attention, and permitting them to feed your heart in a healthy manner. Your generosity is overwhelming. :)

Leah Griffith said...

Thank you Jayne. This is one that I posted a year ago, and then this year I reposted as I believe it says it all. I do share a lot of things that are pretty visceral. Blood and guts is my mantra, and honesty my aim. I believe that revealing certain parts of myself offers encouragement to others. Chasing away shadows.
;)

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