On Father’s day, I sat down to write a quick email to my dad.  Expecting this to be a three minute ordeal, I instead found myself having a hard time finishing this sentence: “Thank you for….”  For always being there for me?  For providing for me?  Somehow it didn’t feel right to see it typed out on the screen.  And I’m not sure my dad would have been comfortable reading those words either, since I suspect neither of us are quite sure about the truth of that statement.

If someone were to ask me about my childhood memories, I would be hard-pressed to find one about my father.  What I can remember are bits and pieces, and frankly, few of them are truly happy.  But I do recall the excitement of seeing the airport shuttle pull up the driveway, running out to help unload the luggage and to greet him with a big hug.  The way the house seemed to light up with extra warmth as the sound of our chatter broke the solitude.  How inviting and complete the dining table looked with an extra set of bowls and chopsticks.  And in the morning, I would run into his room and wake him up by plucking his leg hairs.

But more than anything, I remember being disappointed.  Pressing our faces against the window, we peered into the locked classroom where we should have been hours earlier.  On my desk laid a large cut-out picture of a clown that I had drawn.  I didn’t want to cry but I did.  Not because I couldn’t show him my stupid clown; but because I felt like all the other kids had a dad to bring in on back-to-school night, while I was waiting for mine to come home.

I do not remember at what point that I stopped waiting.  I just know that his visits began to lose their novelty—his homecomings received with little fanfare.  My father became someone I associated with overseas phone calls and short, obligatory conversations.  I understand his paternal duty to provide for me, financially.  What I wonder sometimes, is whether he was choosing to pursue his career over being a father.  I wonder if he really did it for me.

This is not supposed to be a post about blame.  But I would be lying if I said that I didn’t care that my father wasn’t there for half of my childhood.  What I have learned is that when people have exhausted themselves to the point where all accusations and insults begin to sound the same, when they’ve said and heard everything there is to say and hear, there is nothing left to do but to let go.  Because there can be no redemption without letting go.

So, Happy Father’s Day, dad.  While we cannot make up for lost time, at the very least, we should enjoy what there is to come.

Thanks for being a dad who always tries to provide for me.  And I mean it.

Pound cake with raspberry cream

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