A long time ago, I wrote a story about my dad called “Smell the Leather.” My parents divorced when I was 3, and my dad fulfilled his fatherly obligations by taking me and my sister out on Saturday afternoons. He bought a new car every year, and on these occasions, he would drive us around, commanding in a loud voice: “Smell the leather!” He was a happy, narcissistic man who fancied himself a Rat Pack kind of guy. It was a poignant story, as I recall.
Now, I have a different story but it’s still kind of the same.
My dad became seriously ill in June, and in my state of traumatized shock, I went to the city where he lives and helped out. In fact, I got the hospital to admit him after they refused all appeals to do so. Anyway, I joined my 6 siblings, from three marriages, in caring for our dad, who was shockingly frail and had to have a permanent feeding tube in his stomach.
Even though he’d been a terrible father, I wanted to help take care of him and make him feel surrounded by love. The doctors seemed to think he was close to dying. I slept on his couch a few times, listening to him cough all night through a baby monitor. He finally met my 17 year old son.
Now, miraculously, he has improved so much that his feeding tube was removed and he can eat again. He still needs care though, so I made plans to stay with him for a few days, thinking it would be nice to escape my life at home.
Then he called me. He started out complaining about this and that and then got to the point. He didn’t want me to stay with him because I “have too many problems.” He explained that it upsets him, as a father, to see one of his children so unhappy. It especially upset him to see me cry.
It was a surreal conversation but there was no way out. I said, “I can try not to cry, then.” He was skeptical. I reminded him that I had experienced the worst thing that can happen to anyone. He said he understood but asked pointedly, “How long are you going to be like this? Twenty years?!” I thought about it and said, “Yes.”
Trying to keep my voice even, I asked, “Well, how about if I just come visit for a few hours?” He replied: “We’ll talk.” and hung up.
Hahahahahaha! People don’t change! My father was always a fucker and he still is! The fantasy of a loving father was nice for a while, but I’m over it.
A rejecting father is forever, like a diamond.