Sunday, June 21, 2015
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 who 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, love is love, whether it comes from a male or a female, it doesn't matter because it comes from one source and will never leave you or be depleted. Love holds all things together.
This is a re-run of an old post, dedicated to those who never got to celebrate this day.