My Blue Gardenia

Deenie’s Diary Entry Father’s Day
June 5, 2012, 7:18 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I was late to meet him, and sick to my stomach. I had avoided this for years, but now, a married woman, a mother, I felt like it was time to meet my father, even though it felt ridiculous. I was too old for a father. I just thought that I should meet him. He would be getting older, and I hated the idea that he was somewhere in the world thinking that I hated him.

I didn’t.

I just wanted him to know that there weren’t any hard feelings…that I understood now, as an adult and a flawed one at that, that life is much more complicated than I used to think. When I was younger, it seemed so cut and dry. I was his daughter, how could he go from day to day not knowing that I was okay…not knowing who I turned out to be? But how could I, as a mother, (to me, even more sacrosanct) judge him, with some of the thoughts that I have had? I went without expectations. I owed him nothing, and that was kind of beautiful. It was liberating.

He sat at the end of the bar looking down into his beer. When I arrived, he fumbled for money for a beer for me, obviously nervous. We moved to a table to a talk. He was warm and genuine, and at first, I lapped up the familiarity. It gave me a new sense of belonging, something that was often missing in the patchwork family that I had grown up with.  He told me stories about his parents, who died when I was still quite young. They were the people whose love created every stitch of security that holds me together still today, and he connected me to them. He was surprisingly smart and lucid about life, and we had a lot in common. If I met him, a stranger at that bar, we would’ve shared a great evening of conversation. In fact, if he wasn’t so loaded a character for me, I’m sure I would really enjoy his company.  But over time something in his presuming smile unnerved me.  He looked at me like he knew me, despite a lifetime having passed. I wanted him to be more humble.

We continued to meet, piecing together some kind of new relationship. Once the initial catching up was completed, he relied on our shared connections from the past. But his stories only illustrated the sad path that I had always known he’d lived. He shed an ugly light on people who were nearly mythic figures from my childhood.  The aunts and uncles that I had grown up idolizing had ugly secrets, just like all of us, but I didn’t appreciate the education. And it felt like he was compelled to do it, to lift himself up from the gutter he once dug for himself, by climbing over them, despite both of us knowing that he no longer lived in that place. He had something to prove to me.

Now when I see him, there is disappointment in his eyes, and I feel the weight of it. He wants something more, something deeper, and I want even less than before. Something that I’ve always been very aware of, is that who he is to me has little to do with his actions. He’s more of a character than a real person to me, made up of childhood memories… stories told to me, clouded by the hurt and resentment he left behind. He has been used as a weapon against me, for people scrambling to hurt me back, he’s every answer to every exclusion I’ve felt, he’s every disappointment, he is more bad memories than good.

And he can’t overcome it.

The first time he broke a promise to me, as an adult, I was ten years old all over again, and he knew it. And maybe I am more bad memories than good, but I’m his last chance. He’s made something of his life, and he has much to be proud of…but I am heavy with significance. I am the great metaphor for every mistake he’s ever made, and now I stand before him, an opportunity to change history and become whole. And I’m sad for him, because I’ll never be able to give him what he’s looking for, and he’ll never be able to fill that empty space in me,  and I think that we both know it. All that’s left is to accept ourselves for who we are.


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