My dad and I haven’t spoken in nearly 10 years. It’s just so normal that when people have asked me recently if I have any family where I’m from, I say, “no.” Even though my dad still lives there, it didn’t feel right to claim him and have to add that he doesn’t talk to me. It was easier to say I didn’t have any family there and talk about my mom instead.
Last week, I got an email from one of my dad’s good friends asking me a question on behalf of my dad. My dad is moving and wanted to know if I wanted a few of my things that he had stored for me, without me asking him to, mind you.
My first thought? If he has a question to ask me, then HE should ask me, rather than pawning off the task to someone else. My number hasn’t changed since 2003, nor has my email. I didn’t reply to the email. I did get up out of bed that night and write out a letter to my dad because I couldn’t sleep. The letter, which I didn’t intend to send, began by asking “What is wrong with you?” (I wouldn’t send that.) and went on to encourage him communicate with me directly or to get help and stop living this way.
A few days went by until I decided to call yesterday. I went for a run in the morning and spent the entire last mile talking myself into calling my dad before going inside to stretch. Yes, YES! I had decided on the time.
I got back home and dialed his number.
I dialed again. And again. With the same message from the telephone company.
‘He changed his phone number and didn’t even bother to tell me? What an ass!’ I thought. It didn’t surprise me. We haven’t spoken regularly in twenty-plus years, so we already have that precedent set of not communicating.
I went inside feeling hungry and exhausted, mentally and physically, and upset that I had worked up the guts to call my dad only to find out that I didn’t have his number and I had to work up the nerve all over again to call him. Grr! After eating and showering, I went to sleep for over an hour, just shut down my brain for a while.
I woke up crabby, disappointed, and hungry again. My badass moment had fallen flat like hairsprayed 80s bangs in the rain. I wanted to be a badass so badly yesterday!
I didn’t want the day to get away from me. I didn’t know if my dad still went to work or not, but I knew that I had yesterday off, and no other time off to confront him. I contacted another family member and got my dad’s new phone number.
With my son’s nose to the homework grindstone, I went to my room to call my dad, give him a piece of my mind, and not put up with anything he dished out that I didn’t like. He hasn’t exactly been nice to me on the phone since I was about 12.
I called. It rang. He picked up and I garbled out, “Hi-it’s-me-full-name-Hi-your-daughter.”
“Excuse me?” he said.
“Dad, it’s your daughter,” I said.
He didn’t hang up. He didn’t say anything wretched.
“Oh my word,” he said. “It’s so good to hear from you. Did you get the email from my friend?”
His friendliness derailed my entire spiel that I had prepared, which included asking him if he wanted to be my dad or not.
And then he asked me the question that he had asked his friend to email to me. And we talked for 40 minutes. He said all sorts of really nice things like he just wants me to be happy and that I have to take my own path, just like he had to take his own path. He wants the best for me, as all parents want for their children. I said I want the same for him.
He said he wants to keep in contact. I said I would really, really, really, really like to hear from him. He has to call me. I will not go back to doing all the work in this relationship again. I don’t think that he has ever called me. Ever. I hope he meant what he said. I hope he calls. I’m willing to call him a few times at first, if I have to. We are two very different people, and I don’t know what we’ll talk about other than books and my child. If he has changed enough to be nice to me on the phone, I know he can be his own badass and call me. My son and I would love to have him in our lives!
I called my dad last night and reclaimed my badass moment.