For many individuals across the country, Father’s Day carries with it a mixed set of emotions. I sat down recently with a gentleman who shares the following account of his relationship with his dad.
The story about my dad is not a fairytale. My parents divorced when I was a 1-year-old. When my father left my mom, he not only left her, but his relationship with his children as well. Every month, until each child turned 18 years old, my mother received child support. It wasn’t enough, but I assumed it was the best my father could do.
My time with my father was very limited. The only times we took vacations were on the mandatory visitations ordered by a judge. He never remembered my birthday. The best he could do is call me a month or so after and make a joke that he thought I was born later. He would then ask me if I received his birthday card, implying that he sent it. He hadn’t.
He would complain about the service of the post office and, within two days, I would receive a card, backdated, with a $25 check, to make it appear that it was the post office’s fault for the delay and not his. I didn’t mind, because again, I thought he was doing his best.
When I was 18, he called me. He told me if I ever needed any money, to give him a call for a loan. He would then mention that he had given this same offer to my older brothers and gloatingly proceed to tell me how much they owed him. It was the only help he had ever offered me as his son. We didn’t keep in much contact after my 18th birthday, but 10 years later, after the divorce from his second wife, he sent me an email. Here is part of it:
I wish to say how sorry I am for not being your father in the truest sense of the word or even your dad. I have failed in nearly every aspect of human relationships with women and family.
If you can find it in your heart to forgive me then that is all I seek.
May I be so bold as to offer you some advice? Find the right woman, love her forever and stay close with your children for nothing else really matters. I just learned it too late.
If my father truly did his best and still failed, I forgive him. He did what he was legally bound to do, and I am thankful for that. Many children have deadbeat dads and live in poverty because of it; I did not. Happy Father’s Day to the dads who did their best, because I believe this was the best my father could do.
Brad Denney is a freelance blogger in the San Francisco Bay Area.