My father left me messages trying to track me down, asking if he could stay with me. The father that I barely know. He said he was having a hard time finding a hotel.
I live in a very small space. I've told him 'no' on a couple of previous occasions for that very reason, among others. As a 'father', why would he ask me for things he can see make me uncomfortable, forcing me to say 'no'? Why would he choose to do that?
Before I callled him back I found him a hotel. He took it fine. Sometimes he reminds me of one of those blow-up punching bags weighted in the bottom so they keep popping back up. We made plans to meet for lunch. We grabbed sandwiches and sat down in a food court. I didn't have a lot of time before my next meeting. I don't remember how we got on the topic, but I he mentioned he had never had a colonospopy. He's 60, so he should have by now, which is what I told him.
"Nah, my doctor will make sure I get what I need."
"But Dad, everyone gets them after the age of 50."
"As far as I'm concerned, if you worry about cancer, that's when you get it."
Of course that annoyed the shit out of me. So I made a comment about how ridiculous that head in the sand attitude is and he interrupted me, putting up his hand,
"I heard you the first three times. Stop repeating yourself."
The blood drained from my face.
If he was my 'Father' in the capital 'F' sense of the word, he might be able to get away with that, but this is the father that has not been in my life, that pretends to try, only to fufill his need for an audience, a therapist, a personal medical professional, and a topic of which he can engage others on to demonstrate to them what a great job he did 'raising his children'. He has not earned the right to snap at me.
I placed my sandwich down carefully. "This is not going to work."
He looked up, confused.
"Yeah. Not gonna work", my voice thin.
"You can't speak to me like that. You haven't earned it."
"What are you talking about? You were repeating yourself. Don't make a big deal about it."
"No. Let me tell you something. I'm in no mood for this. I have a crazy week ahead of me and you just drop in and think you can snap at me like that. No. Just no."
He was caught completely off-guard. Looking back now I feel terrible for this one part: that I could see him visibly shaking. I did that to him. A 60 year old man. My father.
"Rachel, why are you always angry?", he asked quietly, looking around to make sure no one could hear us. "Why can't you just let it go. I did the best I could, you know. I was there for you. I always loved you guys. Just ask your Mother. I did the best I could."
"I guess there are some things a child doesn't understand", I said looking down so no one would see the tears.
"Well you're an adult now and it's time to act like one."
Not a good thing to say.
He did love me and he tried to be there, but there are some things the kid's brain in me can not get past. Like the fact that he did not give my mother one fucking cent to help take care of my brother and I. He left my mother to take care of us alone, on a receptionist's salary. My father, the accountant, the MBA, never gave us a cent. He said he could not afford to take care of us, but he married someone else and had four more children. As a kid I could not process that and it left a wide rift.
I told him that, which was much more than I ever imagined I would say, especially in a crowded food court.
"As an adult I still find it hard."
"But Rachel, I was suffering from depression. All those years."
"And you were suffering from depression because of the things that happened to you when you were a child."
"And you still are."
"Well, I...yes, off and on."
"I am not about to tell you to grow out of it or snap out of it. It's just not that easy. As an intelligent adult, I understand that it is not possible."
I went through the rest of the day like a zombie. Late that night I called my brother.
"Where are you?"
"Anatomy lab, slicing the dead."
I felt like a cadaver.
"At this hour?"
"Gotta fit all of it in somehow. What's up?"
I told him the story.
"How did you end it?"
"I don't know. I guess it was smoothed over somehow because he was drawing me business diagrams again by the end of our lunch."
"Aaah, the old 'inverted pyramid?".
"Yep. That's the one."