“You are just like your father.”
Those are chilling words for me to hear. I wish to be nothing like him. He wasn’t the picture perfect father. In fact, he was barely a father to me for several years.
Growing up, he was decent. He was kind; he cared for me. We did things, such as go to theme parks or the beach. He’d listen to stories I had to tell. Generally, he was an awesome father.
But then he started getting into things. Things that involved being away from my mother and I. For example, he was really into acting at the local theater. He’d audition and take roles in any play he could. He’d spend hours a night there, rehearsing, then hours on the weekends hanging out with his theater buddies.
He no longer had time for me. I was pushed out of his life as easily as throwing away a bag of trash. My mother got pushed further away because he had found “love” with a new woman. It became a huge affair and he decided he no longer wanted to be married to my mother or live in the same house as me. He moved out.
At first, things were oookay. He’d pick me up on the weekends. We would have fun at parks and beaches, just like when we lived together. It quickly stops though when his new girlfriend expressed her displeasure for being left home alone. We’d invite her along, but she’d have some excuse: it’s too hot, doesn’t like sand, just got her hair done. It was always something. So my weekends with my dad consisted of me sitting on his sofa, watching TV while he doted on her.
After a few years with having her claws dug deep into him, he became the shell of the man I once knew. My step mother always had a problem with me, mainly because I wasn’t her daughter and she didn’t like my mother. She took to lying to my dad about things I did or didn’t do, and he never once listened to my side of things.
Things all came to head when I got pregnant at the age of nineteen. She decided it made my father look like a bad parent, therefore it made her look bad. It was always about reputation about them. I was living with them at the time because I was giving my mother time with her new husband, but after I got pregnant, my step mother kicked me out of her house. Then proceeded to tell my dad I walked out on my own.
Of course, at that time, I knew it would be pointless to plead my case with my father. I did try, a bit, but in the end, he sided with her and pushed me out of his life for good. I did not see or hear from him in seven years. He did not and would not meet his grandson. His wife didn’t care therefore he did not.
I did hear from him last year, months before his passing, because he was dying of cancer. He told me his wife wanted to ask me to sign over all my grandfather’s money I was set to inherit upon my dad’s death to her. I laughed at him, but told him I would consider it because he was dying and I wasn’t going to be the one to hurt him in his final months. I didn’t really consider it. I didn’t feel the woman deserved to gain my family’s money, especially when she voiced her distaste for my grandfather to everyone, including my grandfather.
I was there when the doctors pulled the plug on my father. Not really to be there for him, but more for confirmation. I watched him die. I did cry, a bit, simply because I knew now there was no chance of fixing our relationship. I also cried because he never apologized for his treatment to me over the years. I cried because he was the first man who failed me.
After he was gone, I walked out of the hospital and out of my step mother’s life for good. I changed my email address and my phone number. I made sure she had no way of contacting me. I figured she could see what it was like for me those seven years.
Sometimes I wished he was the father he was when I was younger. Before he met my step mother. Before my step mother turned crazy and forced her craziness onto him. Sometimes I wonder if things would have been different growing up. He did a few nice things through my life — okay, more like two things — like taking me on that not-so fun vacation and buying me my first car. But… two decades of hurt doesn’t seem to change my feelings.
When I try to remember him, I do picture him as the father he was rather than the one he became. That was the man I loved. Not the “new, improved” version.