mi padre

usually i see my dad 3 times a year: his birthday, father’s day, and christmas. well, i’ll see him when he drops off my and my son’s birthday gifts, but it’s not like a sit-down, talk-story, hang-out kinda deal. we just quickly exchange plesantries and get on with our lives. my father and i were kinda close when i was young–not as close as he was to my sister–but we would bond over music and baseball. i mostly relied on him to take me places. he was my taxi driver–taking me to work, to hula, and to school. he patiently taught me to drive. he had these certain routines we had to do, which were absurd, when you think about it. and though he had a way of making me feel bad (constantly calling me ugly, making me feel absolutely rotten if i brought home anything less than a ‘b’ on the report card–which was just once, because i felt so rotten that i never did it again!), i knew he cared. he never once grumbled about having to drive me all over the place. he patiently would explain to me the different rules of baseball everytime i’d interrupt his enjoying a game. he beamed with pride when i got into his alma mater, and eventually, graduated near the top of the class. though none of us were the boy he had always wanted, i still hope that we did him proud in some way, so that he doesn’t regret not having a boy, but be perfectly satisfied with having only girls.

and then, he tore our lives apart. that old “mid-life crisis” thing that i thought only happened in tv and movies happened to us. my mom was devastated, and i was furious at him for making my mom feel that way. he was also the only one in the house who could drive, so for a while there, he’d still show up to drive us to weddings, funerals, and parties that we had to go to. we’d all put on plastered smiles, pretending we were still a happy family, but one only needed to look into our eyes and see the pain. my sisters and i were old enough at the time, but still…we didn’t like seeing our mom so heart-broken, and we didn’t like that now we kinda had to fend for ourselves. my sister, whom we always teased was his favorite, took it hard and withdrew. my youngest sister totally rebelled. and i just tried to make sure my mom knew i supported her, by taking on chores, and offering to pay for certain bills. it was weird to me how quickly our lives changed–would my sister have done the things she did if he hadn’t left? what about my youngest sister? and me? is that why i am so “i-can-do-this-myself-who-needs-a-man?” type of person? would my mom have had all the health problems she had if she weren’t so stressed of his leaving? i guess we’ll never know.

over the following years, i rarely kept in touch with my dad. he got remarried to someone only a couple of years older than me. though my sisters both attended the wedding (the “favorite” probably wouldn’t have gone, but her husband made her go), i refused. i wouldn’t even see him on the 3 occasions mentioned above–i’d give the card for my sister to give him. i just cut him out of my life, even though a part of me felt guilty about it. but hey, he did a selfish act, and didn’t think about his family, why should i consider him a part of my family? anyway, there was a while there that i absolutely refused to see him.

then with his new wife, he finally had the glorious son he always wanted. oh hallelujah. i admit, i was jealous. knowing he had always wanted a son, but was stuck with the three of us girls, just stung. i imagined all the attention that little boy was going to get, and all the praise and glory he would be for being the son. i didn’t even go to see them at all when he was born.

not more than a few months later, the newborn passed away. then i felt *awful*. i never got to know him, never got to hold him, because of my feelings of animosity towards my dad. i went to the funeral and saw my father looking so frail. it was weird–he was always a very tall, strong, stoic man. but as i know now, nothing is worse than having your child go before you, be it son or daughter. it was the first time i had seen my dad in a long time, and it was not the best circumstance. i sat and cried and cried at the funeral, over this little being i had never even met before. but i know it was mostly because of all the lost time.

still a few months after that, i myself was going to have a baby, but i hadn’t told anyone but my mom. so it was a big surprise to hear him announce that they were having another baby, too. he called me — the first time he had called me, ever, since he got married — to let me know the news. i debated saying, “oh really? me too!” when he said they were pregnant, and i decided not to, because i didn’t want to jump in on their happy moment and ruin it by my dad asking his fatherly questions about it. my sister ended up telling him several months later. but anyway, i was surprised he had called me. he was reaching out to us, again. he wanted us to be a family again, my sister was saying. he especially missed us during holidays. of course, with my cynicism, i’m like, well it’s his fault, he wanted to leave… but instead, i gave him a chance. he visited me a lot (they actually only live a few minutes away from me, but this was the first time he visited me in my house, after i had been living in it for 6 years!) my last month of pregnancy, and the first few months of motherhood. his daughter was born just a month after my son, so they were always comparing the two. and i admit, it made it easier to attend his parties and family things–i couldn’t play off an excuse to not go, i had to, now, for the sake of my son. but i got to reconnect all with my dad’s side of the family, who i admit, i hadn’t seen since the divorce.

today i spent time with my dad. why, you ask? it’s not one of the three occasions above? his daughter now dances at the same halau i used to, and he needed help with her costume. his wife and daughter were out at girl scouts, so it was just him, and he was supposed to get all her things prepared for her! so, of course, he called and asked if i would help, since i know all the routines of the preparation for a performance. i went over, and i felt we worked together really well. maybe it was because his wife wasn’t there (ha!), because usually i still feel a bit of resentment or hurt when i’m with him, but it didn’t rear its ugly head at all while we were there. i did notice though that my dad is looking older, which kinda scares me a bit (same with my mom). it’s unnerving to see them get older, frailer, and not seem so in-command of things any more. here’s my dad, asking me for help, when there’s no way he would’ve done that before. and now he wears glasses…and now he has more gray than black hair…and now the wrinkles are starting to show…and … it was just strange. it was just as strange that we were working together! but…it got me thinking.

so now i’m back home and thinking about the day. i have no idea what this has to do with swimming–and i’ll probably take it down after nablopomo–but i wanted to write about him, today. i know that he didn’t have to be my “dad”–he could’ve rejected me as not one of his own, as i’ve seen so many other kids’ fathers do–but he is still the one and only person i feel deserves the title of “dad” for me.

and because of that, i need to not worry about the murky waters between us, and dive in and making things become swimmingly between us.

okay, that was too obvious, huh? 😀
well, too late, gotta publish before midnight strikes and this thing goes poof! 🙂

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