My mind has been deep in thought about something for a few days. I am trying hard to look for the gratitude in it. I haven’t been successful yet. But I shall try. I have recently had the opportunity to read some beautiful words by both women I know and women I don’t know, about fathers. They speak of meaningful relationships that I never had the opportunity to experience. They appreciate wisdom passed down with love. They remember the big things and the little things that make a family connected. They grieve for the loss of their father’s but hold on to such a great love. One wonderful woman speaks to her father to tell him how the family is growing and changing. Her words brought tears to my eyes which I did not expect.
I spent many a youthful day crying over the fact that for reasons unknown to me I was unloved by my father. (As selfish as it seems now I never wondered why he didn’t love my brothers either.) I knew he walked a path of wealth and indifference to us, his children. I saw him once every year or so. I knew his appearance, his name, his monetary value, and not much else. My mother did not speak of him or disparage him. She was busy seeking happiness that was usually out of her reach. I wondered constantly what I had done that made him not care if I was alive or dead. That’s a lot for a kid to carry.
I was never fortunate enough to have had father-daughter conversations, or outings, or wisdom shared. I never once heard an I love you, I care about you, or I want the best for you. I often had fantasies about what it would be like to have my father spend a day with me and care about my happiness. I just realized one reason to be grateful. I am grateful that I never sought out the wrong kind of attention from men for what I never got from my father.
For the sake of my wonderful grandmother, as a teen I reached out to try to be accepted by this phantom. I wrote letters and poetry and opened my heart and soul. I was usually ignored. On a rare occasion when I was responded to I was told I was wasting my time writing verse and having silly thoughts. It was about this time I started referring to him as bio-dad or my biological father. He didn’t deserve to be called a father or dad. Those were and are terms of endearment. I am grateful that even though I did not have a dad I knew what one was supposed to look like. I had friends with real dads, caring dads, loving dads. I can now read in blogs and posts about youthful memories that are still so meaningful and have brought such joy to adult daughters.
Because of the strained relationship I did not share my marriage or the birth of my daughter when they happened. As expected once he found out bio-dad stated he wasn’t old enough to be a grandfather so the fictitious father morphed into the fictional grandfather. He saw my children I believe two times before they were adults. Both instances were because we were sharing time with my grandparents. They were rare visits to them by him. My grandmother, his mother, talked at length with me urging me to stay in contact with him. G-d bless her, she knew who he was, but hoped he would change. For her sake only, I sent pictures and short letters. None were ever responded to. I am grateful that I did something that made her happy, even though it was difficult for me. I knew what a grandparent’s love was, I had wonderful ones. I also knew my children would never know their bio-grandfather. Just as bio-dad had chosen to deprive me of a father, he also decided to never know or acknowledge my children. And the abandonment continues with my grandchildren, his only great-grand children. I am grateful they don’t know the pain of having him in their life only to be rejected and ignored.
As my offspring reached adulthood I was given a wonderful opportunity to purge my hurt about bio-dad. A wonderful woman connected to him couldn’t understand why I was so angry at him. After giving her an earful of the neglect and emotional pain he had caused I felt such a cathartic lifting of pain. I can honestly say I no longer held any hope of there being a relationship with bio-dad. I am grateful it did not take me any longer to relinquish my expectations and hopes of a relationship with bio-dad.
It is only when I read about other peoples wonderful experiences that I wax nostalgic. One or two entries that come into my view I can handle. When I hit four, five, or six in a short time I experience an absence, a hole, that should have been filled with a father’s love. At this late stage of the game I do not need bio-dad in my life. He made the choice to not be my father, my children’s grandfather, and my grandchildren’s great grandfather.
My inner child needed a daddy that loved her. I will keep telling her that even without one she is worthy of love. There it is. There is my gratitude.
And then today this beautiful post came up on my feed. Such a good point. Go easy.