This is as close as I will get to actually saying it to them this year. Sadly, I’m one of those sons that hasn’t had contact with their father in a few years. Actually, the last time I talked to my father was September 2011. It was a rocky summer for us that year because I needed a car for student teaching my father refused to help my mom out. It was rough. He felt like he won this major battle by depriving his son of something that was somewhat of a necessity at the time, but I ultimately got a plan together (like I always do) and got my very first car. I think that ate at him inside – no matter what curve balls he throws at me, I always seem to rise above. It’s somewhat of a skill of mine. I don’t take no for an answer when it is something I really, really want. I always find a way.
Well, today my father is one year older. He’s a sadder part – he shares a birthday with my sister. She turns 13 today. I don’t think I’ve seen her since she was seven, maybe eight. My father and I have always had our differences, but it does hurt that I lost that side of the family in the process. My father lives in Pennsylvania now with his wife and two kids. I suppose at some point I always wanted him to fight to keep me close, but never really did. There were some efforts here and there, but nothing that really showed he wanted me part of his life. I have a brother too who is the middle child. He never got along with my dad either, but he got stuck with him while I got to live with my mom on Long Island. There’s only a matter of time before that kid runs away, I’m sure.
Each year I always say I will write him a letter around Father’s Day and his birthday. I never do. I always find some great excuse like this weekend. I was away taking students on a conference in Syracuse. It’s not a real reason and if I really wanted to, I could pick up the phone and call or write. I just don’t think there’s anything left to say and what’s most frightening is that I feel like he would have nothing to say to me. Although I’ve done just fine without him (truly, I am quite proud), there’s always part of me that wonders what that father/son relationship could be like if we tried harder to have it. He always thought that he would hold the cards and that he would be able to stop me from doing what I wanted unless I gave him what he wanted (more phone calls, visits, letters, etc.). I would have been more than willing if he was willing to meet me halfway with the effort.
There’s no pain like a parent expecting (and possibly) hoping for you to fail. There’s no greater satisfaction than beating those odds and doing better than you could have ever dreamed. He may think of me selfish and he may think that I don’t care now (or that I ever have), but today, I do stop and think about him and my sister like I do every year. I always hope that my sister is happy and she’s enjoying the birthday parties someone her age should be enjoying. Although there’s obvious resentment toward my father, I hope that he’s found some happiness as well. Happy Birthday.