When I called T-Mobile on Monday to let them know that my Blackberry was on life support, the nice guy on the other end of the line asked me what I had done for Father’s Day. I responded that I do not celebrate Father’s Day.
I don’t. I don’t call my father on Father’s Day to let him know what a great job I think he did…leaving my mother, abandoning his children, never calling on their birthdays, never supporting any of us financially or more importantly, emotionally. I’ll never forget that when I asked my father why he hadn’t been a part of my life, he said he thought I’d do fine. He said, “I never had a father and I turned out okay.” Pause to chew this one over.
In “Father’s Day Without a Father,” Amy Sue Nathan writes about what Father’s Day is like for her children after the death of their father. I was surprised to hear her mention a little girl “who didn’t know her father because, well, she just didn’t.”
Growing up in Washington Heights, I knew a lot of these little girls. As Nathan writes powerfully, these little girls did not have “toppling stack of photo albums to leaf through. She has no funny stories, or old clothes stored away. She has no burnt chicken memories.” They also made me feel lucky because no matter how intangible and vague my memories of my father are, I had something, a cheap sliver compared to some, to hold onto. But every time someone wishes me a “Happy Father’s Day,” my heart aches.
Thankfully, the ache gets a little better as I get older and more positive male role models come into my life.