My Dad

So I’m not terribly close to my dad. I suppose. At present. I used to be… when I was a little girl. A little less as a teen. A little less still in college. And then after I married and moved to California, we basically maintained a telephone relationship, seeing each other once every year or so. But for over a decade now, we haven’t seen each other at all. Even the phone calls ended somewhere along the way. And then the coup de grace came around the end of November 2016 when I found I just didn’t have the energy anymore.

Let me make it clear that my dad is not a bad man. In fact, I truly believe at his core, in his heart, he is a good man. It’s just that he and I are polar opposites when it comes to many of our beliefs, and we hit a wall we couldn’t get around/over/through. The distance had been growing for years, but on this last issue, my own anger became so fierce that in order to save myself, I had to cut ties. So I did.

I guess it doesn’t really matter what the last straw was. It’s enough to say it was huge. And we were both headstrong enough to not back down. Social media was not my friend, as I took quite the virtual beating from some of his pals. So I made the decision and I broke free from the situation. I’ve honestly never regretted that. My heart and soul and peace of mind required me to do so. I’m grateful I had the strength to follow through because the anger and negativity was eating me up.

So after almost four years, we haven’t really found our way back to each other, although I finally began answering his texts a few years ago. The messages between us are short and factual and almost formal in nature. Oddly though, they always end in “I love you”. You see, I never stopped loving my dad. Even though we grew WAY apart… he’s my dad. Two years ago, when my oldest daughter was planning her wedding, I decided to extend the olive branch and invite him and my stepmother to the wedding. I’m not really sure what response I was expecting, but they RSVP’d with a “No”. Part of me was relieved I suppose, but part of me was incredibly sad. I guess in the excitement of the upcoming wedding, I had envisioned a happy reunion and some sort of rekindling of a father-daughter relationship.

In the two years since, we have continued to text. The subject matter seems to always revolve around someone’s health and doctor’s appointments. Boring and predictable, but at least it’s some sort of contact. My love for my dad continues, and I have no grandiose ideas that things are going to change much. This morning I found out that he’s been admitted to a rehabilitation center due to some health issues. I’m worried. I’m sad. I’m wondering how it will all turn out and if he knows when I text “I love you” that I truly do mean it… even though we haven’t really spoken in years.

I’m not terribly close to my dad. But he’s still my dad.

Note: My dad passed away around 2AM this morning (6/4/20). And I’m so incredibly sad. I truly did love him. He was, after all, my dad.

Blue

like the ocean
like the sky
like my 1976 celica after an old boyfriend dented and scratched it and I had it repainted

like a carolina tarheel
like my favorite light sweater
like the eyes of my oldest daughter when she was an infant in her great-grandfather’s arms

like a sapphire
like berries for sal
like suede shoes in the 60s that you had to stay off of

like a jay in the trees
like the moon of kentucky
like eyes crying in the rain

like midnight
like dress uniforms
like a slurpee at your local 7-11

like marge simpson’s hair
like the body of an avatar
like a lonely fall weekend with a cold wind blowing and no motivation to be found

Tori Burris Inkley
6/25/16