Heros Fall

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short essay I wrote as the result of some emotional turmoil. A journal entry if you will.

Submitted: April 10, 2014

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Submitted: April 10, 2014

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I’m not really sure why, but most little girls romanticize their father. He’s a hero, there to save the day and keep the monsters away at night. He’s there to kiss scraped knees and bruised elbows; to have a tea party with or read a favorite story. Even when he’s not really there, he’s still that hero. I think every kid views their parents that way, no matter how fucked up and human their parents really are. I mean, at some point I realized that my dad wasn’t the hero anymore. Before reality sunk in, I’d still wait at my grandma’s house for him to come home so I could give him a hug and a kiss. I remember one time he dropped me off at the babysitter’s house and I was devastated because I forgot to tell him that I loved him. What if something happened to him and he never knew? No, said the babysitter, he knows you love him. I still think of my dad when I smell paint; he always smelled of paint, cigarettes and beer.

My father makes it a point to tell me he didn’t abandon me. He had no choice but leave because he was battling his own demons. He couldn’t afford to pay child support after he couldn’t afford to pay a lawyer to fight for me. I’m actually relieved that he couldn’t afford to fight for me and had the sense to leave me with my mom. As I got older I realized he wasn’t the hero anymore. He didn’t call me on my birthday or even send a card for several years. I think I was lucky to talk to him once a year. I began to question how hard it really was to pick up the phone and let your kid know that you care about her. I can distinctly remember two birthdays in which he saw me; one was my eighth and one my sixteenth. The reason why I remember those the most is because I never saw him on the ones in between. By my sixteenth birthday I had his number. I saw him as a deadbeat dad; one who chose not to see his daughter for eight years then decided to waltz on in and try to be a father figure. I was pissed. Who the fuck does he think he is, trying to tell me how to live my life and give me advice? I remember we went to the mall that day; then waited for the bus to take me back to my house. He went to the liquor store and bought a 40oz beer and drank it out of a paper bag at the bus stop. I knew that he had a problem before then but this pretty much confirmed it for me; my dad couldn’t even spend an afternoon with me without getting drunk.

Around the time I was eighteen I got a call from my dad. He was going to prison. He had his third DUI in Oregon, was being charged with felony DUI and the sentence was state penitentiary. Now my dad had been in jail before; many, many times. But state pen was a new kind of punishment for him. I’ll admit I was kind of glad; I thought maybe he would learn his lesson and change. It was around this time that I was finally able to tell my father, “You abandoned me. You hurt me.” He apologized from the bottom of his heart, told me his wished that he could go back and change things. I told him it’s not too late, it’s never too late for a parent to salvage a relationship with their child. He promised he would write and call as much as possible from prison; he truly wanted to prove himself. And actually did, for a few years anyway. I still think that was a pivotal point in our relationship however the sobriety was short lived. He started drinking shortly after getting released from prison and things escalated with his new wife. I continued to keep in touch with my father, talking to him a few times a month but learned to avoid his phone calls if he’d been drinking. Now that I had more frequent contact with him I began to learn that not only was this man an alcoholic but he was bitter. Mean. Judgmental. Harsh. As crazy as it sounds, I was thankful that he wasn’t around very much during my childhood. He was (and is) extremely critical of everyone around him without taking much responsibility for his own actions. I quickly learned that every bad thing in his life was always someone else’s fault and never, ever his. His boss was rude and fired him for no reason. His wife was crazy and fought with him all the time. My father almost never had a positive thing to say about anything or anyone, except maybe me. It was (and is) emotionally draining to have a conversation with him.

But despite all these things I’ve kept him a part of my life. This bitter old man has burned every bridge he’s ever crossed. Some days I question why I still talk to him. My husband witnesses firsthand how much it pains me to talk to him and watch him self-destruct. Granted, it’s from a distance but that’s about all I can take. I’ve taken the ostrich approach several times, simply choosing to ignore his negative commentary but I still feel like I’m unwillingly taking on some of his shit; almost like I’m his emotional landfill. I’ve also taken another approach at times, trying to explain things from my perspective; usually when he doesn’t understand why someone doesn’t want to talk to him or help him. It usually goes in one ear and out the other. Who knows if any of it will eventually get through but I’d like to hope it will one day.

So how does this little story end? Well it hasn’t. Every time my phone rings with that familiar number flashing across the screen I cringe a little inside. I pick it up and talk to him anyway because that’s what a good daughter does. Even if he hasn’t been Father of the Year to me, I will keep being there for him. Because I may be the last person in his life who hasn’t written him off yet. I still hold on to the hope that one day everything will click into place for him and he can enjoy peace and serenity in his life. Until then…..


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