A year ago….
I received a call from my brother.
Dad wants you to call him. You should call me back after you speak to him.
-Is he dying?
-Is he going to die?
-(Resisted correcting him on his technical error) Are you sure he's not dying?
-Why can't he call me if he wants to talk to me.
How long has it been since you talked to him?
-You mean since I left a message saying I was never going to talk to him again… at least three years. ( I had a particularly good reason for being pissed at him… trust me it's a gem)
Mom says to get over it and not to be your normal charming sarcastic self.
I laughed, said I would call, hung up, rolled over to went to sleep.
Couldn't so I called mom.
yes (voice totally void of emotion… tell tale that she already knew why I was calling)
-Did I wake you mommy?
-Are you busy?
-ummmmmmm Wilfred wants me to call him
Call your father
Mama loves you
-I love you too
Mom hangs up
Mom made a point of never speaking ill of the man that fathered my brother and me. I will forever respect her for that. She encouraged us to form our own opinions. She held her tongue when we got excited at his promises… and when 95% of those promises fell through. She tempered my outbursts of anger, soaked veils of tears, coaxed my coldness into an at least reasonable luke-warm-iness while remaining sensibly stoic and appearing mentally stable. Many kudos to mom.
Instead she spoke in facts. He owns a photo business. He has married and divorced several times. He has two other children. He likes to drink squirt… the one in the yellow can. The only time I heard any inflection in her voice was when I was about nine. I had just watched some heart wrenching black and white with Cary Grant or some other older, suave caucasian male with glossed back, chalkboard black hair who glided effortlessly and flawlessly across the screen while simultaneously maintaining the absolute peak of virilality… when I was inspired. I don't remember the exact story line but I do remember feeling like my questions were answered… like I had found a reason, an explanation.
I went into the kitchen where I found my mother going over a pile of papers and frowning… I hovered at the door for a bit before I spoke
-Am I a love child?
She looked at me for the first time since I had entered the room. Her eyes narrowed a bit and disappeared into her high cheekbones. Then they softened and glazed over, she looked at the ceiling, she pressed her hands against the table cloth. I remember her fingers splaying out a little. I can't remember the color of the cloth. It was probably vinyl because its easy to clean. It was probably blue and white with either checkers or dots. She had a thing for those mother goose plates which were blue and white and she always was well coordinated. Her head tilted to the side. Her eyes close completely.
"You know, " she said after a while in a concerned voice "I don't even know why I did it… the sex wasn't even that good."
So that squashed that.
Did I mention I was nine.
I decide not to call
7 mins go by
Did you call him
Call Dad and call be back okay!!
-Alright alright I'll call!!!!
Don't be your normal charming self.. you know … don't be a bitch
I call him.
The first time the phone rings I hold my breath
The second time the phone rings I dare him to pick up and face me
The third time the phone rings I can feel the same deep seated sorrow of a teenage girl that had been stood up on prom night. Except I wasn't wearing chiffon and satin and the person on the other end wasn't some acned 17 year old. This wasn't the prom. This was me 13 years later still waiting for a man, still waiting for a daddy that would never show up.
The fourth time the phone rings I breath a sigh which carries with it a broken relief. Things hadn't changed, he hadn't changed, I am now free to roam about the country hating him for the rest of my natural born life…
He answers the phone…
He speaks and I listen. Well I try to listen but honestly I just heard words. Pointless words spiraling in cyclones and circles, wildly skewing into cockeyed tangents and in my mind I am screaming bullshit. Just say what I want you to say. Just say what I want you to say.
I'm an ass
I miss you
I am proud of you
I want you in my life
But he doesn't say that. He says other things that I now can't quite remember. He constructs a lopsided, half baked cake and tops it with a shy, weak and uncertain "I love you" and when I stop breathing he says it again
I love you
It is a question. And a fucking unfair one at that. He really meant to say "Do you love me too?" and that really meant "Do you forgive me?" But I couldn't forgive someone who never said I'm sorry in the first place. I asked him if that was all. And when he didn't reply I gave him a firm
-Good bye Wilfred
I hung up the phone.
I was pissed because this was no way to start a work day. On top of the emotional rollercoaster that I had just ridden I was going to be late to work. I rushed through getting ready. I didn't allow myself time to think. Just as I was leaving the house I receive a call from my brother.
What did he say?
-a whole bunch of bullshit
Yeah, but what did he say.
I told Joseph everything that I heard and when I was done he said wow. And Joe broke it down for me. All those words that didn't make sense,. He redirected the tangents, made a straight line of the circle, calmed the cyclone and told me this: He says he's sorry for being an ass, that he misses you, and he is proud of you and he wants to be in your life
The crazy laugh.
The one where my shoulders shake and my head drops forward. The one that makes Terick place his hand on my shoulder because he knows a crazy storm is brewing inside. All breakables should be put away and sharp items stowed under the seat because we are heading into turbulent waters and its going to be one hell of a ride.
Terick's not in the room to stabilize me but I catch my reflection in the mirror and I stop laughing. I stop laughing because the face that stares through the looking glass is not my own. This face is ugly with anger, twisted with bitterness, rouged with resentment, darkened with rejection.
I tell my brother I will talk to him later.
I get to work, brew coffee, turn on lights, water plants, un-collate, copy re-collate. I check my e-mail. And there it is.
One line… one little grenade that's been waiting to go off since 2:15am. And I laugh again. This time because while the jury was still out on whether or not I was truly a bitch I am now certain that the Universe in her cosmic glory is one and has a fucked up sense of humor that I couldn't bring myself to appreciate in the moment.
One line, one fortune cookie line and I am bent over my desk sobbing so hard that snot is running out my nose. Half my mind screaming Wtf this isn't that serious, don't let him get the better of you… the other half begging me to just let if all out.
One line, subject header of an daily e-mail from spirituality something or other dot net that read "It is far easier to hate than to forgive because in forgiveness we must see ourselves in the face of the one who has wronged us."
Hate is a strong emotion. It is easy to say I hate my father but it was a lot of work to maintain it. I didn't hate him. I didn't like him but I didn't hate him. I hated that I couldn't rip his blood from my body, I hated that I couldn't rip off my broad shoulders or my nose, certain things I would say, gestures I would make. I hated that he shaped me... formed by the things he didn't do. I hated that a man that I had barely spent a grand cumulative of 72 hours with in 26 year had so much power over me. And what I hated most of all. What really made my blood boil was that even though I had given this unworthy man reign over my emotions and mind. I knew nothing about him.
Not his birthday, his shoe size, his father's name, his favorite color, his elementary school, the name of the street he grew up on, what type of music he likes to listen to… his middle name.
I hate wondering whether he wonders these things about me.
It took so much out of me
I called my father and told him I loved him too. I didn't mean it then. But I wanted too.
I really wanted too.
That was a year ago and today I publish this.
I publish this because I am coming to the end of a journey. A journey that has taught me so many things and among these is how to forgive myself and how to forgive others. I have found the following quote to be true:
"What is forgiveness? It is a gift from a generous heart. Forgiveness is not a reward. It is not something that you give to someone based on his good behavior. It is something that you give to a person irrespective of whether he has deserved it or not. Forgiveness is also not based on whether the person has asked for forgiveness.
Also know this. Forgiveness is not an event, which starts and concludes when you say the words, "I forgive you". Forgiveness is an act and a process, which often takes time. The deeper your hurt the longer it usually takes to completely forgive. It is an act because it is not just the words you say but it is your actions which will show if you've really forgiven."
In two weeks I graduate from this place of learning and life change. Not only have I faced my demons, beat my addictions, challenged and accepted myself taken the first step on a long ever-changing adventure I have also managed to learn how to give a wonderful massage.
I will get a certificate , say a couple of words, shed a few tears, go to a party, drink like nobody's business and I will most likely wake up on a beach in Santa Cruz with sand stuck in my ass.
My dad's not going to be there and neither is my mom.
I'll call them though. On three way. I'll have someone hold the phone so they can hear them call my name… so they can hear me say my few words before I pass out on a Californian coast line.
They are not going to be there
But that's okay
I'll make sure to say mom I love you. I will make sure to say dad I love you. Because it's true
I love you dad
I mean it this time
I forgive you
And I forgive myself for taking so long to do so