If you know me, even a little bit, and you’ve dropped by to read this because it has “Father’s Day” in the title and you’re a little curious about what I might have to say, then I’ll just apologize right now.
I don’t have any new information or words of enlightenment about my (lack of) paternal guidance in my life. About the only thing new I can impart is that the fucker is still alive and kicking, which makes him old AF; he’s as uncommunicative as he was when I was 10; and my older half-brother still waxes poetic about how “great” our dad is. News flash, big bro……he ain’t great. Oh, he’s great at ignoring his responsibilities, great at pretending he’s without human flaws, great at not reaching out to a child who never asked to be born and never contacted him for anything and whose mother never did, either. He’s great at his imitation of an ostrich; come to think of it, comparing him to an ostrich is an affront to ostriches everywhere.
Does this come off as bitter? I’m truly not. Understand this. I’m so not bitter, I’m your grandma’s homemade fudge.
I don’t know why my older half-brother sought out a friendship with me. We never speak of our relationship. We have two things in common: the asshat who stuck his dick into our mothers and the fact that neither of us is unkind. That seems to be it, though. He’s a Christian, conservative, well-to-do, proud bearer of the family name. I am none of those things.
That being said, sought me out, he did, and accepted his request, I did, so the joke’s on me, I suppose. Every time he posts about dear ol’ Dad, I feel uncomfortable, vaguely numb, and confused. My sperm donor – his dad -seems to be pretty fantastic. He has stories to tell, history to impart, and wisdom for days. Big bro describes a happy childhood and has nothing but elevating, kind, even worshipful words about this person who stole, like a theif in the night, into our home up until he got my mother pregnant with The Male Sibling Unit. He disappeared after that and then became persona non-grata after he renounced his attachment to a son who was developmentally-delayed. My mother “must have cheated on him” ( oh, there’s the irony!) because “no (insert last name I was not permitted to have) could father a retard.” That’s right, folks. That great guy used that word. I was a quiet, stealthy child with a penchant for eavesdropping because that was the only way I ever found out anything in my family; those people were vacuum-sealed when it came to feelings and truth. I also read voraciously, and nothing was more absorbing than the journals my mother kept during this time. This was the age of snail mail, too, and, to this day, I give not a single fuck that I read her mail, both incoming and outgoing. I certainly wasn’t getting any answers to the questions I ventured to ask; when the responses went from “Nevermind” to banshee shrieks of outrage that I would even dare to ask, I gave up. The journals and letters spoke her truth. And so, I understood, even at a young age, that this was no great guy.
I wonder, sometimes, whether or not our Facebook friendship is my seemingly-nice, older half-brother’s passive-aggressive way of reminding me that I’m not one of “them”. I’m not a part of the big family network with the old patriarch holding forth at family gatherings and such. I can’t post cute anecdotes about “that thing my dad said the other day” or wax poetic about him via loving childhood memories, because the well is fucking dry. There has never been water in that well; rain evaporates into nothing because there is no atmosphere. It is a black hole of lacking. There aren’t even tears, and I promise you, on the life of my children, there never have been. I never cried for the lack of what I never had. I never wished for a relationship, or a father figure, or for that great man to have a change of heart and seek out an audience with me; what crumbs he did offer were digested and shat out long ago. I don’t need my life force infected with the obvious intolerance of anyone who throws around the word “retard”. I don’t care that he said it 40 years ago and I give not a single fuck to the consideration that maybe he hasn’t said it since.
“Maybe he doesn’t know you’re his half-sister”; some of you might be thinking this. He knows. He fucking knows. That’s one thing about this town we inhabit together; people make it their business to know other peoples’ business. Just as I was an observant eavesdropper, there’s something in the water or the air here that makes everyone feel entitled to “know shit”. In the 60s and 70s, when I was a kid, the first thing anyone asked you was “Who’s your dad?” Sometimes it was, “Hmmmm, (says last name)…..what was your mother’s maiden name?” Answers like “I dunno” and “Her maiden name was what mine is now” elicited a certain reaction I learned to recognize and to abhor; it was the “Oooo, I’ll have to ask so-and-so about this!” face. It wasn’t a very accepting place with which to grow up when you were a bastard. I wear that word proudly now; back then, it wasn’t a badge I pinned to my chest.
So yeah, he knows. Does he know he makes me vaguely uncomfortable with his Pro-Daddy posts? I dunno; if he reads this, he will. Do I fear that he will misconstrue this as a sign of weakness in me? Nope. I’m not afraid of anything; I can honestly say that. I’m certainly not afraid of the opinion of a man who might just read this, discover that his great dad used the word “retard” about a son who looks exactly like his two other sons, and still chooses to regard that man as great. Nope. My battered and bruised heart still beats strong within my chest. I can’t wait to see another great post tomorrow, on the day all the kids thank their great dads for everything.