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To My Dad, On His Birthday

(published here because my personal website is down)

(note: rambling ahead)

Dear Dad,

It's been just over four years since you yelled "you are dead to me" and mom made you leave the house. I know how humiliating that must have been for you, but it was the right decision because we were pretty close to escalating that fight into something physical, and I have to say: I would have won that one. You're not even half the man you used to be, mentally or physically.


And that's sad. The stroke you had robbed you of so many things, and I really feel for you. I know what it's like to take pride in your intellect, to be maybe not the smartest person in the room, but certainly the cleverest. And for that to disappear... well, that just sucks, doesn't it? What's worse is that you remember being that person and that memory taunts you every day when you struggle to remember basic shit. I understand how you must have been feeling these past 15 years.

And you know, we all cope in our ways. Some people get all saintly and selfless as they battle whatever challenges they face. Grandma was like that. She was probably in pain for a good 20 years before she finally let go and went to join Grandpa, assuming that he made it upstairs and not down. I'm guessing Grandma is in whatever Heaven is, decorating shit in shades of blue, with unicorns all over the place, while Grandpa is in his version of Hell, which... is Grandma decorating in shades of blue with unicorns all over the place. So they're probably together.

But not you. Oh no. After a brief attempt at rehabilitation (that treadmill), you got pissed off and stayed pissed off. And then you started (or continued) drinking. Tequila. Lots of it. On top of all the drugs you take (and Mom tells me that you are basically a walking Walgreen's), I'm sure adding half a bottle of tequila a day was helping a lot.

That was sarcasm, by the way. Because it did NOT help. You were never a pleasant drunk, and after your stroke you turned mean. Mean and stupid, which is really the best combination of all.


I am grateful that you and Mom opened your house to WeePiglet and Main Dog and me while ours was being renovated. We were so happy to be able to get away and hang out and have WeePiglet spend quality time with her grandparents, and I was happy to get away from my life and sort of recharge and have some downtime. Having an almost-4-year-old is hard enough for a normal person. For me, it was a bad time and I was in danger of losing my grip. Being able to leave her with Mom for a few hours while I went to see friends or just go be by myself somewhere probably saved my life.

Probably. Maybe I would have snapped out of it when WP started school later that year and I got some precious, precious downtime. Yeah, probably.


But then... oh dear. You came home pretty drunk one evening, and I knew when you walked in the door that it wasn't going to be a good time. The fires of righteous disapproval were already burning bright because you drove the car in that state. I was well primed by the time you picked a fight with me.

I fight with words. I know the power of a well-placed insult, and I know that sometimes, being shocking will throw the opponent off guard and let me go in for the kill. Where do you think I learned to do that? In literature, it's shown time and time again that the villain hands the hero the very weapon needed to vanquish him. As you did, when you taught me the power of words so many years ago. I asked you "are you sure you want to do this?" I gave you an out.



So here we are, four years later. I hate to be That Guy, but... how's that working out for you? Are you happy? Your relationships with both of your daughters are non-existent. Your relationship with your sons is... strained, at best. I feel so incredibly sad for you, because you're at a time in your life when you should be enjoying your children and grandchildren, and you just aren't. I'm willing to bet that Big Sister's kids don't even ask about you anymore. I know mine doesn't. You're just not on her radar, and that is sad.


Is that what you wanted?

I don't know, Dad. I don't think I love you anymore, but I don't hate you, either. I miss the Dad I used to have because the guy walking around in your body isn't him. When I think about you, I have a lot of anger and frustration mixed with pity and contempt. It's not a good mix.


It doesn't have to be this way. You are always welcome in my home and in my life, and I have made that clear. I forgave you for our fight and moved on years ago, and I have said as much. It's up to you now. We don't have to have a deep and meaningful relationship, either. I would settle for kindness and courtesy, because I wish so much that WeePiglet can have her Papa back in her life. But I'm not going to hold my breath.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

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