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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dear Dad

The last time I saw you was in '98. It was summer, and I dropped by Grandpa's unexpectedly for a visit. I had my best friend Tiffannie with me, and I was driving my green GrandAm. She was pregnant, and so there was a baby carrier in the back seat. You asked me if I was having a baby, and when I explained that I wasn't, you muttered something like "Oh, well, see you later." Then, you took off on an errand, and I left before you returned. I wish I had known then that that was the last time I was ever going to see you. I probably would have hugged you, because by then I was starting to grow up. Starting...

You only ever personally gave me one thing. It was a wooden plaque that you had carved my name into. It said, "Just call me Roxie." I was touched, and that plaque hung on my door until I realized that I no longer identified as Roxie, but as Roxanne. Then, I put that plaque in my hope chest along with all of the other things I want to keep, but don't really need. I am almost certain I still have it in there, but I haven't actually opened my hope chest in 6 or 7 years.

I feel like I never knew you. It's true that we never really talked, and when we did have time to talk, we didn't know what to say to one another. I'm sure that all your memories of me are from when I was young and stupid, and so you probably thought of me - when you thought of me, if you ever did - as silly, naive, and idealistic. I thought of you as funny. Whenever I was with you, you made me laugh. 

There is a lot of you in me. I see it when I look in the mirror, and I see it in my mother's eyes when she's looking at me but thinking of you. Apparently, we are both lazy, stubborn, and frustrating. When I was young, it seemed that all the men in my life were drunks and assholes - and since I knew you were an alcoholic, I protected myself by assuming that you were an asshole too, and put up a wall of not caring. I told everyone who asked that I only ever went to visit in order to see my grandfather and siblings, but in truth, I thought of you as an interesting person who made stupid mistakes.

At some point, I realized that all of the people in our lives are there for a reason to teach us something. After I realized this, I spent a large amount of time wondering why YOU are my dad. I mean, aside from conception and those few times when I came to visit, you really weren't a part of my life. All of the lessons that you could teach me involving alcoholism and male role-models were taught to me by my stepdad. I couldn't figure it out. Even realizing the the lessons you were meant to teach were really for my mom to learn, I still wonder then, why? If you had nothing to teach me, why were you my father rather than my stepdad? Why - when I was waiting to be born and signing up for my life lessons - did I choose you and my mother to be my parents? Would it not have been better for me and my life to wait until someone more involved came along?

The answer is no. I chose you because in order to learn my life lessons, I needed to have those personality traits I inherited from you. I needed to be a dreamer. I know we are not done yet, and perhaps now the real lessons are about to begin. It hurts a little that you never got to meet my boys. I don't know what to tell them. 

When I heard that you might be dying, it was told to me in a way that did not make it feel urgent, and to be honest, I don't think of death as the end anyway, so I was not sad to hear that you were moving on, and yet, I wanted so much to go to you and just talk. It didn't work out, and now it's too late. I beat myself up for not making an effort - despite having absolutely no money - to visit. Then I remind myself that I am angry because - to my knowledge - you never once made an effort to see me. It was always me who would call up and say I wanted to come visit. The most I remember you doing is picking me up half way and dropping me off again after I'd already asked to come visit.

Did you ever call me, even once? Did you ever once tell your mom, "Yes, she really is my daughter."? Did you ever even think it to yourself?

Aside from being a tiny bit angry and hurt, I know why you didn't call or write. What would you have said? That's the same thing I asked myself whenever there was an opportunity to call you. How do you have a conversation with someone you don't know? Really, how can I blame you for something I stopped doing myself? If you figure out something to talk about, feel free to visit me in my dreams anytime. Maybe we can get to know each other after all this time.

And, if you ever come visit my boys, and they see you, please let them know who you are. I would much prefer that they know their grandpa is about then have them wonder who that strange man is. 

So, this is goodbye. I know that your life was a tough one full of hard lessons. Did you ever learn them? Were you at peace in the end? I hope that if you choose to come back for another life that you can choose an easier one. In the meantime, I hope you can relax and enjoy your afterlife. Until we meet again.

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