So, here I am in 2017 and I feel sad and depressed on Father’s Day.

Perhaps I am too old for this. Perhaps I should be smarter or stronger about this day or perhaps I should just be able to simply walk away and be okay – reminding myself that this is just another day. But, I can’t do that.

For the past six years, I have worked hard to make Father’s Day amazing for my husband and show him that despite his lack of a father or mine that this day can still be wonderful, full of lovely memories with our kids. The kids only realized yesterday what today was because I’ve been too stressed (insert – in too much pain) to plan this ahead of time. But, after years of working with them to make holidays special, learning to show love and appreciation for those we care about – they jumped into action on their own to celebrate him. My daughter painted for him and my son made a homemade card. Then, when we were at the store yesterday my son and I made my husband and my daughter go somewhere else so we could pick out a cheap movie from the discount bin just for him. We don’t have a lot of money right now but they always know that homemade cards, special drawings, and simple presents from the heart have more value than anything store bought.

Today, my husband is happy. Our home life is laid back, easy-going, and simple. We spend lots of time together – with pleasure. We cultivate an atmosphere of honesty and

Statue of a Chinese man in robes with long hair and hands clasped together. The robes go down to the ground and cover his feet so we don't see them. He has a long beard and mustache.
Old Man – Statue from unknown artist at the Kansas City Arboretum Sculpture Garden

trust. Things are peaceful and loving in a way that neither of us experienced growing up. Today, that doesn’t detract from my sadness.

I had given up long ago on having a father that was interested, or even wanted me. My brothers were always argued over by my parents. I can remember my mother screaming at my dad over the phone telling him he had to take me and my sister too for visitation rights. But, all that accomplished was my dad picking us up then dropping us off with my aunt while he had my brothers. For my mom’s part, she spent my whole childhood making people feel sorry for her and trying to pawn us off on others so she could be alone – sometimes for weeks at a time. She made it very clear that she didn’t want us and we kept her from fulfilling her dreams. She actually said those words on multiple occasions. My dad, on the other hand, was too deep in the throes of addiction to care for anyone or anything outside of himself. The four of us were just incidental, accidental pawns in either of their lives.

I accepted the state of my relationship with dad a long time ago. I had grieved what I wasn’t getting and I moved on with the very real knowledge that he wasn’t a part of my daily life and had no real interest in doing so if it didn’t do something for him. I was only important if or when he needed something from me, which was almost never. So, what now?

Now, he showed up about a year ago via social media saying he wanted something between us. I was cautious and distant. I talked to him and told him about my health issues up front. I didn’t mince words. As someone with several chronic health issues and who is in constant pain, I just don’t have time for that anymore. With anyone. I felt…..numb. Unsure and numb without a clue how to navigate the situation or if it was going to last.

It didn’t last. He unfriended me months later after I wasn’t pandering after him and praising him and falling all over him for suddenly showing up and showing partial interest. I tried sending him a few messages but wasn’t interested in chasing him. It was clear from our relationship that he wanted just that – I was supposed to fall all over him like a little girl who missed her daddy and didn’t question anything. I was supposed to hum sweetly to the tune that this pied piper was making, never noticing that I was heading out of town to be drowned and disposed of.

Those who know me understand something about me – I don’t whistle and sing while blindly following someone. I am inquisitive, questioning, and highly analytical. I notice emotions and shifts in conversation that are so subtle they aren’t usually recognized. I pick up on insinuations, underhanded digs that are hard to trace, and connections between the people with whom I am speaking that surprise folks later on down the road. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t dancing to his tune. And, it’s been months since I had heard from him.

Then, suddenly I saw that he had a new Facebook account. My sister told me he does that regularly but I knew he had that same account he originally contacted me from for several years. He didn’t always post and isn’t much into social media but does use it to keep track of family now and then. After that, he friend requested me again – a few days before Father’s Day.

I believe that people can change. I believe in the power of redemption, the power of love, and the power of kindness and compassion. I think that if anyone wants to fulfill the goodness and love that resides in him or her, it may take work but it can be done. I believe each of us has power and goodness that just needs to be cultivated with the right choices and the right amount of work. But I also believe in being honest so that you can deal with life as it is and not waste time chasing a scenario that may never happen.

Being contacted a few days before Father’s Day proved to be just another attempt to get praise and admiration from a relationship that he never worked for or cultivated. I ignored that request and have no desire at this point to change my decision. I think I will always carry a measure of sadness with me at the loss of what I didn’t have. Now, I will carry with me the loss of what will never be. I had that deep down secret hope that as adults it might be different. But, if a person is unwilling to change then I cannot force a path that shouldn’t be trod upon.

Winding pathway that curves right then straightens out, with on either side that are stretched to the sky and arch over the pathway. The trees are green with speckled light from the sun shining through onto the cement pathway.
Path at the Kansas City Arboretum Sculpture Garden

At the end of all this, I will get up and go spend time with my family. I will make more good memories on this day, but I won’t ignore the sadness that I carry. It prods me to be a better wife, mother, friend, and even stranger on a regular basis. The loss and pain in my life have made me a better person. That is all I can hope for.